Title: Bluff Creek
Author: NancyLynn
Author's page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/577831/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Romance/Drama
Written: 05/01/2004
Words: 62997
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I of course have no rights to any of the characters within this story. Chris Carter, 1013 Productions hold all copyrights. I only use them to expand my creativity. This story revolves around Mulder's dream of discovering Big Foot.
Content: Chapter 1 to 23 of 23 chapters
Summary: After being suspended for two weeks Mulder convinces Scully to travel to Bluff Creek, CA with him on a camping trip to find Bigfoot. Once there they find that someone is using the legend for their own sick agenda.

Note: For those who do not enjoy Mulder & Scully confessing their feelings (like normal people do) this story is not for you. It is full of humor and outrageous situations that may not have had happened on the real X-Files show. I also like to think that there was a lot we did not see on the show that could of happened in between as we did not see EVERY day in their lives… for example the actual event that happened in "all things" that we never actually saw.. Or the scene where Scully asked Mulder to be the father of her baby. Sorry this story is SO long, but this was posted several years ago on the Fox message boards… I continued to build the thread due to requests and finally ended it.

"What am I going to do for two weeks?" thinks Scully to herself as she lies in bed staring at the ceiling.

Mulder had convinced her on going on a side trip to Leary, Georgia where on January 6th, 1969 the then Governor, Jimmy Carter had seen a UFO. Scully had been reluctant to go stating the 'irrelevance of the sighting to the bureau's current priorities.', but Mulder had won her over with one of his 'But, Scully I need you on this' statements along with a lopsided grin and an intense look. She had fallen again to the charms of Special Agent Fox Mulder.

They had discovered little upon their arrival. The only evidence being a souvenir shop selling T-shirts and hats that said, "Even a Former President Believes". Of course Mulder had bought one of each and Scully had finally convinced him to go home to Washington DC.

Unfortunately, the whole ordeal had lasted three days and AD Skinner had informed them upon their arrival back to work that they were being suspended without pay for two weeks for 'wasting the tax payer's money on a thirty year old incident."

Now slightly over twenty-four hours later she was lying here listening to the constant whirring sound of the air-conditioner. She turns over and her eyes start to flutter shut when she hears a banging on her door. She opens one eye to look at the digital clock by her bed. It reads 8:35 A.M.. She sighs and rolls out of bed shrugging into her bathrobe and ties it as she walks to the door. She peeps through the peephole to see Mulder grinning with cups of coffee and a brown paper bag. Scully rolls her eyes as she unlatches and opens the door.

"Mulder, we are on involuntary vacation. Why are you here?" she asks.

Mulder walks by her into her apartment.

"And a good morning to you too Sunshine," he replies. He holds out a cup of coffee to her. Scully stands against the edge of the door still holding it open. She sighs and looks down to the floor. Finally she looks up with a smile as she shuts the door and taking the coffee she walks to the living room. She sits down on her couch with her feet tucked up underneath her.

Mulder sits down next to her balancing his coffee on the arm of the couch. Scully bites her lip from saying anything as Mulder opens the bag and hands her a bagel which she takes.

"Its regular cream cheese," he says before she can open her mouth. He reaches back into the bag and pulls out a powdered jelly donut which he takes a large bite out of. Scully stares at the donut and thinks to herself how 'she'll be lucky if something doesn't end up on her couch or carpet'. Mulder leans back and puts his booted feet up on her coffee table.

"Mulder!," Scully raises her eyebrows.

"Oh. Sorry Scully." He reaches out and unties his boots and then kicks them off to the floor. He takes a sip of his coffee and then jumps when he realizes how hot it is.

"Is there a reason for this impromptu visit?" asks Scully taking a bite of her bagel.

"Well, actually there is," says Mulder pulling a video tape from under his sweatshirt.

"Mulder! I am not going to watch any videos not belonging to you," says Scully waving her hand in the air.

"But the totally amazing thing Scully is I think you've already seen this one," says Mulder jumping up from the couch and approaching the TV and VCR. He pops in the tape and turns the equipment on.

"Mulder, doesn't your VCR work at home," asks Scully covering her eyes with her hand.

"Well, yeah but I wanted you to see this," says Mulder sitting down next to her. "Come on Scully! Its okay, its not that objectionable!" He pulls her hand off her face. She finally looks to the screen and her blue eyes go wide.

"What the hell is that?" she asks.

"Its a Sasquatch or better known as Bigfoot," says Mulder stuffing the rest of his donut in his mouth.

"Why are we watching it?" asks Scully turning to him.

"Because I want you to be familiar with what it looks like if you see it."

"Mulder, I don't think I am going to see that wandering around in Washington DC, although some government employees don't look much better," says Scully turning back to the TV to look at the humanlike fur covered animal walking across the screen.

"Not here Scully. In Bluff Creek Valley, California," says Mulder pulling out two plane tickets from his pocket. "This is a pilgrimage for me and seeing we have two weeks off I can't think of someone I would rather have by my side but you."

"Sweet Mulder, really sweet," says Scully looking at him. He is giving her that little boy smile and look again. "I am not falling for this again.," she thinks to herself.

"But, Scully I need you on this," says Mulder pleading.

"Oh all right. I guess there isn't anything better to do," says Scully.

Twenty minutes later the tape has stopped and is rewinding. Mulder turns to Scully and says, "So what do you think Scully?"

"I'm thinking how I was talked into this wild goose chase," says Scully turning to look at him.

"Its going to be great," says Mulder pulling out a brochure from his pocket. "I have it all planned out. We arrive at 8:00 PM tonight so the first night it will be too late to reach the campsite, so we stay at this Lazy Acre Trailer Park for one the one night. The next day though we hit the hiking trail and after about a five hour hike we should be right about here." He points to a dot on a map on the brochure. "The actual documented sight where this tape was filmed in 1967!"

"Mulder, did I hear you correctly? We get one night in a comfy bed in a trailer and then we are going hiking to reach a campsite. We're going to actually camp? With tents and a fire?" asks Scully.

Mulder nods. "Bring your marshmallows Scully. No sleazy motel rooms for us this time. This time we get to become one with nature."

"I can do that watching the Discovery Channel," says Scully raising her eyebrow at Mulder. "I have one word for you Mulder....mothmen."

"Scully, that was Florida this is California and the Sasquatch are known for being timid creatures that avoid people. We have nothing to worry about. Now I'm going back to my apartment to pack, so get those little legs moving and pack up your gear."

"My gear?" asks Scully.

"Well you're going to need a variety of types of clothes. You'll need sweaters, jeans and a jacket for when its cold, but bring shorts and T-shirts if its hot. Oh and bring really thick socks and hiking boots. You'll be glad that you brought them. Lastly, make sure to bring your bug spray and to be safe bring a portable first aid kit," says Mulder.

"Anything else?" asks Scully.

"No, I think that covers everything. The woman I talked to at the trailer park said that we could rent our tents and camping gear from her. She gets a lot of tourists so they're equipped with all the necessities. She said I was lucky to have gotten the reservation so late in the season as they are usually booked by now." Mulder gets up and throws his trash in the garbage as he walks to the front door.

"So I'll swing by and pick you up around 1:00 this afternoon okay?" asks Mulder.

"Sure whatever," says Scully following him to the door. "Are you letting Skinner know we are going?"

"No, I figured that since we are suspended he doesn't really need to know. As far as he is considered we've disappeared from the face of the planet for two weeks" says Mulder as he opens the door.

"Mulder, he is going to wonder why both of us are not around. What if he gets the idea that something is going on?" asks Scully.

"What do you mean if something is going on? Something is going on. We're going to California to hunt Bigfoot," says Mulder staring at her.

"No. What if he thinks that we are together," replies Scully.

"But that's just it Scully we will be together," says Mulder.

"Mulder, what if Skinner thinks we are involved," says a frustrated Scully.

"But we are involved in a timeless pursuit in discovering the truth of the Sasquatch," continues Mulder.

"Mulder! What if he thinks that we are romantically involved and have run off on some tryst," says Scully looking very embarrassed.

"Why would he think that," asks Mulder looking away and finally walking out the door.

"I don't have any idea," says Scully shutting the door and rolling her eyes.

Its 12:50 later that afternoon and Scully has packed a large suitcase. There is no overnight bag this time as they are going to be gone for two weeks. She drags the heavy suitcase into the living room dropping it by the side of the couch. Just then there is a knock at the door. She opens the door to find Mulder standing there dressed in jeans, a dark green sweatshirt with a white undershirt underneath. Scully can't help staring at her partner as he takes off his sunglasses.

"Ready to go," he asks as he walks by her through the door.

"Yeah, my bag is all packed," she points to the suitcase.

"You're going like that?" Mulder asks her pointing at her.

"Like what?" asks Scully looking down at her black pants suit and black heels.

"Scully, this isn't an official case. Let your hair down a little bit. God forbid, dress down a little," say Mulder chewing on one end of his sunglasses as he accesses her attire.

Scully walks over to her suitcase and tosses it up onto the couch. "Fine, I'll change," she says as she unzips it. She takes out a pair of jeans and a lavender knit top. Lastly she finds her white sneakers and heads to the bathroom to change.

Mulder sits down next to the open suitcase and puts up his feet on the coffee table.

"You better not be putting your feet on my coffee table," says Scully from the bathroom.

Mulder quickly removes his feet. He whistles to himself as he as he waits for Scully to return and glances around her apartment. Finally his eyes rest upon Scully's open suitcase. He starts to glance away, but he zeroes in on something. He can't resist running his finger along a pair of black lacy panties that just happen to be beckoning to him.

"Mulder! What are you doing?" asks Scully walking over.

"I wanted to see if that material was as soft as it looked," says Mulder jumping a mile.

"Of course its soft. Its satin," says Scully face flaming as she slams down the lid of the suitcase. She zips it up and tucks the hair behind her ears. Mulder gets up and puts his sunglasses back on. Scully puts her hand in the handle to pick up her suitcase and starts to pull it off the couch. Mulder puts his hand over hers.

"Let me take it for you." She nods in agreement and picks up her sweater and pocketbook from a nearby chair. As they approach the door to leave Mulder says, "God Scully! What the hell do you have in here? Don't tell me that you brought a microscope and other scientific stuff?"

"We may need it Mulder. There is always a need for my equipment," says Scully opening the door and locking it behind them.

"You're not going to need that stuff Scully. You only need your eyes. That is where the truth lies. The best observations that you are going to make on this trip will be with those baby blues of yours," says Mulder walking about ten feet in front of her down the hall.

"For once I agree with you Mulder," says Scully boldly checking out her partner's jean clad form moving down the hallway ahead of her.

"This is so embarrassing," says Scully as the airport security guard tosses her clothing aside to look in her suitcase. "I told you I am a doctor specializing in forensics for the FBI and that's my microscope."

"Honey, its okay. You don't have to lie," says Mulder putting his arm around her. "These nice people will understand our little secrets." Scully pulls away from him and gives him a look.

"Okay, you're all set, but this bag is way too big to carry on. You're going to have to check it in," says the guard replacing the microscope and clothes. He gives Mulder a wink as he tosses a teal satin teddy into the suitcase. Mulder bites his fist as Scully slams shut the suitcase again.

Mulder takes the bag and they head to the airline counter and check Scully's bag.

"Mulder, you got everything you need in that little carryon for two weeks?" asks Scully.

"Yeah well I didn't bring Dana's Secret in my bag," says Mulder casually as they walk toward the snack shop. Mulder picks up a bag of sunflower seeds, an orange juice and a pack of bubble gum. Scully buys a Diet Coke and some fat free pretzels. As they are exiting the shop they hear their flight being called. By the time they reach the terminal people are already boarding so they get in line.

They board the plane and Scully is surprised that their seats are in the First Class Section. "Mulder, I'm really astounded that the bureau would pay for first class seats," she says taking the window seat.

"that's because the bureau didn't pay. I did on my measly federal agent's paycheck," says Mulder.

"You paid for us to go to California yourself? Why?" asks Scully.

"Because like I told you before Scully its my own personal pilgrimage. Excuse me could we please get some pillows?" Mulder smiles at a stewardess who hands him two small pillows. He stuffs one behind his head and turns to her to give her the other Scully is giving him a look.

"What? We may as well be comfortable on this trip," says Mulder as Scully leans forward and then back against the pillow that he placed there.

"Mulder, what has gotten into you?" asks Scully looking at him amazed.

"I don't know I just got this feeling the other day that I need to slow down," replies Mulder closing his eyes as he starts to relax for the long six hour trip.

"But you're still running," replies Scully closing her eyes as well.

"Yes, but this is different," says Mulder falling asleep.

Two hours later into the flight Mulder is awakened by someone kicking the back of his seat. He turns to see a woman trying to control a small boy. "I am so sorry Sir, he just won't calm down. Its his first flight. I hope he doesn't wake up your wife."

"She's not my wife. She's my FBI partner. We're kinda on a case," says Mulder. "Don't worry about waking her up, she sleeps like a log and actually she drools too."

He is totally joking because when he turns back forward he sees Scully's eyes wide open. Just then the kid takes his Star Wars light saber sword and hits Mulder in the back of the head with it. Scully tries hard not to laugh. She turns around and says, "Is your name Luke Skywalker."

"No its Tommy," replies the little boy. Mulder turns around and gives the kid an annoyed look as he rubs the back of his head. "What are your names?" asks Tommy.

"I'm Dana," smiles Scully "and this is Fox."

"that's a funny name," laughs Tommy. "Fox you know you have a big nose." Tommy's mother looks like she wants to die.

"I am so sorry Sir. He never acts like this," she apologizes.

"that's okay. We love children don't we Mulder?"

"Oh we adore them," mumbles Mulder turning forward again.

"So why are you going to California," asks Scully.

"We're going to go see my Grandma and Grandpa. They are going to take us to Disneyland," says Tommy bouncing up and down in his seat.

"That sounds like fun," says Scully smiling.

Tommy hits Mulder in the head again with the lightsaber. "Dana you are a pretty lady," says Tommy shyly.

"Thank you Tommy. that's a very sweet thing to say," says Scully.

"Fox, do you think Dana is pretty," asks Tommy trying to hit him again. Mulder reaches back and grabs the lightsaber from the kid pulling it into his lap. "I've been known to say that I can see where people would think she is hot," replies Mulder not turning around.

Scully glances over at him and then says, "Mulder, give the kid his lightsaber back. I promise you I'll buy you one." She grabs it and hands it back to Tommy.

Just then lunch is served. "Filet mignon. Now this is traveling," says Mulder digging in. Scully eats her salad first and then eats half of the meat. Soon after the stewardess picks up their trays and the agents each take a magazine to read.

After another hour and a half Scully needs to use the restroom. She hates to disturb Mulder as he has fallen asleep again, this time his head coming to rest against her shoulder. She smiles as he looks so peaceful. She brushes back a lock of hair from his forehead. "Mulder, I've got to use the restroom. You've got to move."

Mulder mumbles something in his sleep and then wakes up. He lets Scully out and sits back down. He looks at his watch. there's still two hours left. Tommy leans over his seat and stares at Mulder. "What do you want?" he asks Tommy.

"I heard what you said," says Tommy. "You said a dirty word about Dana."

"What?! I didn't say anything," says Mulder looking toward the bathroom expecting Scully to come out any minute.

"Yes you did. You said it really soft, but I heard what you said when you first woke up," says Tommy. "I'm gonna tell Dana what you said. I'm gonna tell that Fox said a bad word." Mulder turns to see that Tommy's mother is sleeping.

Ten minutes later Scully returns and Mulder moves so she can get in. He is very quiet and picks up his magazine. She turns around to see what Tommy is doing. He is chewing bubblegum. He smiles at her and blows a large bubble.

There is only about 1 1/2 hours left of the flight, but a stewardess is distributing small plastic glasses of wine. When she reaches Mulder he takes two and hands one to Scully. She raises her eyebrows as she takes a sip.

"We're not officially on duty," says Mulder downing his glass in one gulp.

Scully takes another sip and thinks to herself about the few times that her and her partner had drank wine together. Actually, this was the first time. She had somewhat attempted to get him to loosen up when they had been in Florida that time. She had brought wine to his hotel room, but she had made a joke of it and he had left to check something out. Then there was the most embarrassing moment of her life. Eddie Van Blunht had fulfilled a fantasy for her and she had fell for it. How she could have fallen for that? Worse than realizing her mistake was to have Mulder of all people break down the door seeing her drunk and coming onto a carbon copy of himself. Mulder would never have come to her apartment to just socialize. There would have had to been an X-File involved. She had tried not to respond to any innuendos that he had made over the years because it was just teasing. That was Mulder's personality and he wasn't interested in her any more than as a friend. But he hadn't really dated anyone since she had known him. What if given the opportunity would he reject her? After seeing Daniel she knew why she had stayed with the FBI and all things had indeed led to Mulder.

She had realized again when Mulder had almost died on that table from the tobacco beetles that another fork in the road had been reached. Life was too short not to turn off the main road and seek something new and possibibly exciting. She was determined to try that alternate path and see where it led her. The only problem being that there probably wouldn't be a way back to the main road. The main road felt safe and the alternative may indeed prove wrong. But she had felt the same way when she chose the FBI over practicing medicine.

"Scully? Scully?" says Mulder.

"Hmm..?" She jumps as she comes back to reality.

"You were really out there," says Mulder. "What were you thinking about?"

"Oh nothing in particular," replies Scully looking down.

"Come on. You must have been thinking about something," presses Mulder.

"Some things are better off unsaid," says Scully looking out the window.

"But sometimes things go unsaid for too long," says Mulder. "You're thinking about Daniel again aren't you?"

"He moved to Washington to be near me. Imagine living ten years in a city just to be near someone that doesn't even have a romantic interest in you," says Scully shaking her head.

"Don't dwell on the past Scully. It only gets you into trouble. You said yourself that you feel like you made the right choice in life. Are you telling me that you have changed your mind? Do you wish you had stayed with Daniel? You probably would be a successful doctor now, probably married and with a family. It probably sounds a lot better than spending seven years chasing aliens with your crazy but extremely sensitive FBI partner," says Mulder looking intently at her.

"No!," says Scully her eyes quickly popping up to look into Mulder's eyes. "I wouldn't want to change anything. Its all been rewarding. Its just its taken me time to realize how much so."

Mulder nods at her in agreement. He wishes that she were a little more open with her feelings. They never talked much about nonwork related subjects and he knew there was bound to be much he would like to learn about Dana Scully. He never pressured her about revealing too much about herself. He learned more each day and felt that over time she had come to trust him as he had trusted her.

"Did you bring any camera equipment," asks Scully trying to change the subject.

"I brought a camera and plenty of film, but we'll need to rent a camcorder when we get there," says Mulder stretching.

"You really expect to find something out there don't you?" asks Scully turning her body to face him.

"I have my beliefs and I follow my heart," says Mulder. "Sometime you should do the same."

"What does that mean," asks Scully. "I'm here aren't I? I'm more open to extreme possibilities since I had that experience in the Buddhist temple. What more do you want Mulder? Oh, I know what this is all about. You're still mad that I didn't go to England to look at crop circles with you."

"Lets just drop it before one of us gets really mad Scully," says Mulder. "I am not mad that you didn't go to England. I told you I found nothing so it would have been a waste of both of our time to go there. Besides it was good for us to get away from each other for a while. It gives people time to think and I think you found that out by your Buddhist temple encounter."

Scully bites her lip. She doesn't want him angry at her. She reaches over and squeezes his hand. "I'm sorry. I'm really trying. This is new to me investigating paranormal things with an open mind. I mean when Daniel got angry at me and asked me where I got this stuff from I was actually offended as I get it from you. I would have hated to admit it a couple of months ago, but you're rubbing off on me you know." She gives a small smile.

"Don't let anybody at the bureau know. They're apt to send us off to the funnyfarm with adjoining suites," jokes Mulder.

"I wouldn't mind as long as I was with you," replies Scully. She is surprised at herself for saying it and sees Mulder is shocked but pleased at her response. She removes her hand from his and soon the pilot is announcing their descent.

The plane has landed and Mulder and Scully get out of their seats and wait in line for the plane door to open. Tommy pokes Mulder in the butt with the lightsaber. Mulder spins around. "Now what? You got all my bubblegum. What else do you want?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to say goodbye to you and Dana. But I do want to tell you something." Scully turns around in curiosity. Mulder fears what the kid is going to say so he squats down to listen. Tommy says softly, but loud enough for Scully to hear. "I think you should marry Dana. She is a very nice lady."

"Oh you do now," says Mulder turning to look at Scully who is now looking at her shoes. "that's good advice Tommy. If that ever comes true I'll make sure you get an invitation to the wedding." He stands up and tousles the kids hair before turning around. He hears Tommy's mother reprimanding him for 'nosing into other people's business'.

The agents get off the plane without saying anything and head to the baggage area where Scully's bag comes off the belt. Mulder takes it and then looks at his watch. "The woman on the phone told me that there isn't any need of getting a rental car. The trailer park is sending over a ride for us and then from there we will be hiking. They'll bring us back to the airport when we go home."

"Okay," says Scully nodding.

They head outside to the passenger pick up area and after ten minutes they see a van saying "Lazy Acre Trailer Park" pull up to the curb. An older man gets out and skips over to the two of them. "Hi my name is Howard Connor. You can call me Howie. Welcome to California. You must be Mr. and Mrs. Mulder," he extends his hand to Mulder. Mulder shakes the man's hand and then removes his sunglasses. You're mistaken Sir. We're FBI partners. Dana and I aren't married. Scully's heart gives a little leap at the sound of her first name coming from her partner's lips.

Howie frowns and scratches his head. "You two aren't married? All right I just hope this doesn't present a problem with the accommodations." He reaches for their luggage and takes it to the van. "Just hop in folks and we'll be there in a jiffy. Too bad that you're arriving while its dark. I could have pointed out all of the major sites along the way."

Mulder opens the sliding van door and helps Scully in. He climbs in himself and shuts the door. Howie is in the back of the van putting the luggage in. "Why would he think we were married," asks Scully suspiciously.

"I don't know," replies Mulder innocently.

"Mulder, there's something you aren't telling me," says Scully leaning back looking at him. "Mulder you wouldn't have attempted to cut expenses here by only renting one trailer on purpose would you?"

"No. No of course not Scully. Why would I have bought first class tickets if I was trying to cut expense?"

"I guess you're right," says Scully looking away disappointed. She had actually hoped Mulder had purposely set this up as a trick for her to stay with him in the same trailer.

Howie gets behind the wheel of the van and starts it up. They coast onto the main highway and after about fifteen minutes they are on a dirt road leading far into the woods. Finally they reach a small trailer park a neon sign marking their arrival. Howie gets out and opens the door for them and then goes to retrieve their luggage. Mulder hops down with Scully following.

"I'll walk you over to the office," says Howie carrying their luggage. Once there he puts it down and rings the bell for them. Just then a woman comes out from the backroom.

"Hi folks! My name is Kate. You must be the Mulders. I've got your key right here." She turns around to pull a key off a board.

"You're mistaken," says Scully pushing forward. "We're not married. We need two trailers, although we would like them preferably near one another."

"You are the Mr. Mulder that made the reservation right?" asks Kate pointing the key at Mulder.

"Yes," says Mulder looking embarrassed as Scully taps her foot.

"You told me that you needed a trailer for you and your partner for one night. I assumed that meant your significant other," says Kate.

"I'm his FBI partner," says Scully. "I'm not really his significant other."

"Not in the widely used definition," says Mulder looking down at Scully.

"Well I don't care about definitions," says Kate "because we are booked solid and like it or not you two are sharing a trailer tonight. So either call yourself a cab or sign the register please."

Mulder looks at Scully who shrugs her shoulders. "Its only for one night Mulder. We'll manage somehow." He turns to sign the book and Kate then gives him the total price for the rental. She points to a sign that reads 'Cash Only Please'. Mulder gives her an annoyed look and pulls a couple of bills from his pocket and tosses them onto the counter.

Howie reappears and carries their luggage to a nearby trailer. "Goodnight folks. Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite." He walks back towards the office. Mulder opens up the trailer and flips the switch. They go inside and Scully frowns. To the right is two chairs and a small table. Straight ahead of them is a boothlike table and to the left is a small sink and refrigerator with cabinets on both sides of the trailer extending to the rear. Mulder walks to the rear of the trailer and comes back. "Where is the pullout couch. All trailers have pullout couches?" asks Scully motioning with her hand.

"Not this one. there's only the one bed in the back," says Mulder looking amused at her. He is curious how she is going to handle the situation now. "I'll sleep on the floor Scully. You can have the bed."

He watches her as she goes to check out the bedroom herself. After a couple of minutes he hears her say, "No. We'll share the bed Mulder." Mulder shakes his head. 'Did I hear correctly', he thinks. 'Dana Scully wants me to share a bed with her?'

Scully comes out and starts inspecting the cabinets trying to see if they have left anything for them to eat. Mulder grabs his bag and gets out some pajamas and heads into the small bathroom. He comes out of the bathroom dressed for bed and using the kitchen sink he starts to brush his teeth. He sees Scully standing with her suitcase open staring at it. Finally she starts rifling through it tossing stuff aside.

Mulder continues scrubbing his teeth. He pulls the toothbrush out of his mouth and says, "Wear the teal one."

Scully turns and gives him a look. "I'm looking for my pajamas. What you saw was a slip! I've seemed to forgotten my pajamas."

"So, wear the slip," says Mulder spitting in the sink.

Scully laughs to herself. 'Wouldn't he be shocked if I did just that she thinks. No that's for later. Let him squirm a little bit. She finally finds her satin pajamas. "I found them!" She pushes past Mulder and changes in the bathroom and then heads into the bedroom. She hears crunching from the kitchen. "Do you have a snack I don't know about? Are you holding out on me?"

"No its just sunflower seeds," replies Mulder.

"Mulder, we've got to get up early. Please turn out the light and come to bed."

"Scully, do you know how long I have fantasized about you saying that?" asks Mulder as he flips the switch and enters the bedroom.

Mulder gets into the bed with Scully. He can't believe that she is actually willing for him to share the bed with her. He sits up straight up and thinks to himself how he doesn't know if he is going to be able to sleep knowing that she is only about a foot away from him. Although the light is off he knows that she is still awake. What do you talk about when you are nervous as hell? He doesn't have to wonder long as Scully speaks up first.

"Mulder?" she says.


"Did you love Diana?" she asks.

"What?!," Mulder exclaims. He is really shocked at her choice in subject matter. The furthest thing from his mind at the moment is Diana Fowley.

"I just wondered why you two didn't continue with the X-Files together. I mean I wondered if your personal relationship ruined your working relationship," continues Scully.

"Where is this coming from Scully? I don't want to talk about Diana. She is dead and all of this is in the past. I told you not to dwell on the past and I don't want to either," says Mulder running his hand through his hair. He hated talking about Diana because it made him uncomfortable.

"I just wondered," says Scully.

"I'm only going to say this once Scully. Diana and I were not good together. She was controlling and she sometimes treated me as an inferior. You met her. She was manipulative in every way."

"But she was a kindred spirit when it came to pursuing your quest. She truly believed didn't she?" asks Scully.

"Yeah, she believed in the work," says Mulder..

"Would you rather have someone like her by your side? Would you be happier if I had been more like her?" asks Scully.

"Scully, how could you ask such a ridiculous question? You offer an alternate approach to everything that I encounter. I wouldn't want it any other way." He thinks to himself how he would just like to drop this conversation. There were other things that he would have liked to be doing right now.

Scully had been facing away from him, but she then sits up and looks at him. "I'm sorry for being nosy."

"No, your're not being nosy," says Mulder. "You have a right to some answers. I only wish I could truly express to you how sorry I am that I treated you so badly when Diana was around. I wouldn't listen to you about how I was being used. Scully, I was used. The only reason Diana knew to give you that book and keycard was because she was at the actual procedure that they did on me. She actively participated with Cancer Man. She let me be experimented on. That is not someone that I should have been trusting. It was you that found me and saved me. It may be too late for me to say this, but you are the only one I trust. I've told you that before, but I just want to remind you how important you are to me. You are my very best friend in the whole world."

Scully looks down. "I thought I would never find you. I didn't think that you were going to wake up." Mulder puts his arm around Scully and pulls her to his chest.

"I'm here now and I promise you that I'll always be there for you. If you someday feel that your path in life has suddenly taken a wrong turn I'll understand. The X-Files is my life and it shouldn't be yours. When we go home I want you to take some time to yourself and worry less about me," Mulder says softly. He kisses the top of her head. He knows that she won't say anymore about the subject, but he knows she is crying as he has felt a teardrop fall unto his neck. He wishes he could tell her everything that is penned up in his heart at this moment. He wants to tell her that he has been a fool for seven years and that he loves her. He loves her more than anything....even the X-Files.

He glances down. He can't see her face as the moonlight isn't falling in the right direction, but he can hear her steady breathing and he knows she sleeps. He sighs a breath of relief. He doesn't want to answer anymore questions unless she comes clean too. He closes his eyes and sleep overtakes him as well.

At about 2:00 A.M. Scully wakes up to find herself snuggled up against Mulder. He is sleeping and she can't help watching him. She knows he was absolutely shocked that she allowed him to stay with her, but she wanted him to know she was open to new things. Although nothing had happened between them it felt right lying next to him. He was hers and she was his. It was unspoken, but assumed. She continues to stare at him. She wishes that she had enough confidence to lean up and kiss him right on the lips, but what if he got mad. I don't want his opinion of me to be lowered she thinks. His respect for me depends upon my strict rationalization and predictability. She compromises instead and leans up and gives him a very soft and lingering kiss on the cheek. She leans away and is not surprised to see his eyes open.

"What was that for?" he asks giving her a hint of a smile.

"Just because," she smiles back.

"I'm really uncomfortable here," says Mulder. "My back is killing me. I've got to lie down." He slides down to lie flat on his back but doesn't make a move to push Scully away. In actuality he tightens his hold on her. She tucks her head up under his chin and he rests his head on it. He smells the shampoo in her hair and thinks how he has always loved that smell.

The two of them fall asleep thinking of one another.

At 6:00 A.M. Mulder awakens and sees the early morning sunrise through the window. He knows its time to get up and start on their adventure. He looks down and sees Scully still asleep. He wishes that he doesn't have to wake her, but if they are going to get anything out of this trip they have to take advantage of the daylight. "Scully? Scully, are you awake?" he asks softly.

"Hmm? Yeah, I'm awake. Don't tell me its time to get up already," says Scully not opening her eyes.

"Rise and shine. Its time to go find the Sasquatch," he says.

Scully sits up and pushes her hair behind her ears. "Was it Kate that told you where we could rent some gear?"

"Actually she rents out the gear. She has so many tourists coming through here looking for Bigfoot that she got into the side business of renting stuff out a couple of years ago," says Mulder sitting up and stretching. He walks into the bathroom and uses the very cramped shower. A few minutes later comes out dressed in jeans and a grey t-shirt. Scully is asleep again with her face in a pillow. "Come on Scully! Up and at em'!" He slaps her on the butt. Scully immediately sits up and gives him a glare.

"Mulder, technically we are on vacation. We have two full weeks to hunt Bigfoot. You said that you were going to slow down a little bit." Scully gets out of the bed and pushes by him to walk into the living room. She pull out a pair of jeans and a lavender t-shirt and goes into the bathroom. "This shower is made for a midget!," she exclaims.

"Oh, come on Scully. I managed. I'm sure you'll have no problem," says Mulder outside the door.

About twenty minutes later Scully emerges looking beautiful as usual. She walks up to her suitcase. "How am I going to take all of my stuff? I didn't think of that Mulder," says Scully.

"Lets go see Kate and see what we can rent from her. Then we'll decide what we are going to take and what we'll leave behind for her to watch for us," says Mulder opening the trailer door. Scully steps down and they walk to the office where Kate is already sitting at the counter drinking a cup of coffee and reading the morning newspaper.

Scully notices the headline, "Tourist Couple Missing, Feared Dead".

Kate looks up. "Good Morning Folks. Did you sleep alright?"

"The accommodations weren't exactly what we had been anticipating, but we managed," says Scully looking away from Kate.

"Actually we're here to see what we will need for our campsite," says Mulder glancing at Scully.

"Well you will need a tent, sleeping bags, some flashlights, a compass, a radio, food, lighter fluid....". Kate continues to list the items out.

"We're going to need a camcorder. Do you rent those?" asks Mulder.

"No I don't, but I tell you what. I'll let you use mine for a deposit, okay?" says Kate.

"Great," says Mulder. "We're also going to need some smaller dufflebags or something. My partner brought a lot of unnecessary stuff. She didn't realize we would be really roughing it. Could we leave some of her stuff behind and get it on the way back?"

"Sure no problem. I've got backpacks that you can use. It'll be a lot easier for you," says Kate.

"We're going to need two tents," says Scully. "Last night was an exception to the rule, but sharing a tent is really against bureau policy."

"Okay. I'll see what I can round up," says Kate.

Half an hour later they have all the gear they need. Kate has also put together food and water supplies for them to last for the entire two weeks.

"You know folks I think maybe I should drive out and drop off all of this stuff for you. There is just too much for you to carry out to the campsite. You can take your backpacks, but with all the food, supplies and tents you just can't carry it all," says Kate.

"that's really generous of you Kate," says Mulder. "We'll go pack up Scully's stuff and start on the trail. We'll follow the map you gave us and I understand that campsite #42 is ours?"

"Yes, and please take this." She hands him a compass. "Do you know how to use this?"

"Sure, my father and I were Indian guides," says Mulder smiling at Scully who rolls her eyes.

The agents go back to the trailer and Scully finally narrows her belongings down that they fit into the backpack that she has been assigned. They strap on their backpacks and hit the trail. Mulder picks up a walking stick and hums to himself as he walks along. He carries the camcorder in his hand. Scully walks along behind him. After a half an hour Mulder turns on the camcorder and starts narrating. "It is Tuesday, April 17th, 2000 and Agent Dana Scully and I have entered the world of the Sasquatch in Bluff Creek, California. We are determined to discover the truth regarding this mysterious but gentle creature. At this time I will give an overview of our surroundings. The forest is very thick and sunlight is average. We have traveled about two miles and have about three more to go. Agent Scully is holding up splendidly." Mulder turns and starts filming Scully trudging along with her backpack. "Agent Scully, how have you found the trip so far?"

"Mulder, I'm sweating my a** off. Get that camera off me."

"As I said, Agent Scully is doing splendidly. Morale is high," continues Mulder walking backward. Not seeing a large branch across the path Mulder walks into it and flips backwards falling over it.

Scully walks up to him. "Are you all right Mulder?"

"Yeah my a** broke my fall," says Mulder sitting up.

He gets up and retrieves his camera. Just then he hears something crashing through the woods. His eyes meet Scully's and he sees that she too has heard it. Without warning he turns and starts running toward the sound.

"Mulder! What are you doing?" Scully runs to keep up with him. After about five minutes they have reached the place where the sounds were originally coming from.

"I think it came from over there," says Mulder getting his camcorder ready. He walks forward through the bushes and Scully follows close behind. "Stay here," he tells her.

"You always say that," mutters Scully.

Not three minutes later Mulder comes running back with his panicked look on his face. "Mulder, whats wrong," asks Scully concerned.'

He grabs her hand and pulls her through the woods. "Scully, get those little legs moving. In other words.. run!!!!"

"Mulder, why are we running," pants Scully as she is pulled through the woods.

"Because of that!," screams Mulder as she turns at the sound of a huge roar. "BEAR!!," screams Mulder stopping at a tree and grabs Scully pushing her up the tree.

Scully is halfway up the tree when she looks down and sees the bear rapidly approaching. "Mulder, hurry up!," she yells.

Mulder starts climbing and barely makes it before the bear gets there. The bear stands up and claws the tree just missing Mulder's foot as he scrambles to another branch. Scully observes from a higher branch as Mulder climbs up and sits on the branch across from her.

"Mulder, bears can climb trees can't they?" asks Scully wrapping her arms around the trunk of the tree and trying not to look down.

"Yeah, but we should be okay as long as we aren't carrying any food. You aren't carrying anything right Scully?" asks Mulder looking at her. Scully doesn't answer for a moment.

"Scully, you aren't carrying any food right?" Mulder asks again.

"I have an apple and some crackers," says Scully quietly.

"Drop em'," says Mulder

Scully lets go with one arm and manages to get her backpack off and pulls it in front of her. She starts to unzip it, but almost loses her balance. Mulder grabs onto one of the loops on her jeans, but she catches herself. She nervously exhales and looks at Mulder who is wiping sweat off of his forehead. She tosses the apple down and then opens a sleeve of crackers. They rain down onto the ground. The bear immediately attacks the food pushing it around with his nose. Mulder and Scully watch as the bear finishes, looks up and licks his chops.

"Looks like we're next," says Mulder trying not to appear scared.

"Mulder do you have any food on you?" asks Scully.

"No, nothing," replies Mulder.

"Not even any sunflower seeds?" asks Scully.

"Well the package isn't even open yet," says Mulder.

"Drop em'," replies Scully trying not to laugh.

Mulder almost falls too as he tries to take off his backpack. Scully grabs the back of his grey t-shirt, but he falls forward. Luckily he grabs the branch and hangs arms and legs wrapped around the branch. Scully closes her eyes and exhales again. Mulder pulls himself up and finally gets his bag of sunflower seeds out. He rips the bag open with his teeth and looks at it sadly.

"Don't think about it Mulder. Just do it," says Scully.

Mulder nods and pours down the seeds to the bear who has assumed his up on hind legs position and the seeds pour neatly into his mouth. Mulder tosses down the empty bag and the bear gets down and sticks his nose into the bag. Finally he just sits down and leans against the tree. Mulder turns to Scully. "Why don't you sing something Scully? He may get scared and run away."

Scully stares at him. "Me? What about you?"

"You don't want to hear me sing Scully," says Mulder.

"Whats fair is fair," says Scully. "Last time I sang remember?"

"This is going to be really bad," says Mulder.

"Its supposed to be. that's the whole idea," replies Scully.

Mulder takes a deep breath and starts singing his impersonation of Elvis singing none other than "Teddy Bear". Scully can't help smiling and finally laughs out loud as the bear looks up, gives a big growl and then runs into the woods. The agents wait another twenty minutes before Mulder climbs down and then helps Scully as she reaches the bottom of the tree.

They backtrack to the trail, finding the camcorder on their way. Once they are heading back in the right direction Mulder starts narrating again. "It is April 17, 2000 at approximately 11:30 A.M.. Agent Scully and I were detained for a short time by a bear, however despite a near death experience we are trudging on in our quest to pursue the truth. We were forced to relinquish our minimal supply of food, however due to my ingenuity I was able to single handily frighten the bear off, thus saving myself and the fair Agent Scully." He swings the camera to Scully who has stopped to remove a rock from her shoe. He continues taping. "We have approximately 1 1/2 miles to go and Agent Scully has been a trooper thus far."

Scully leans up from adjusting her shoe. "Mulder, shut up and please shut off that camera. You're going to waste all the tape and when you want it you won't have any to use."

"Oh, so you're saying you actually believe that we may find something out here?" asks Mulder.

"I am not willing to inflate your ego by agreeing with you Mulder. If we see something you'll know I agree. Until then I'm not saying a word," says Scully walking to his side and looking up at him.

"Thanks for coming with me Scully. I know you probably had much more exciting plans for these two weeks, but it means a lot to me that you forego your free time to spend time chasing after Bigfoot with me." He looks down at her with affection. Scully reaches out and takes his hand and squeezes it.

"there's no where I would rather be," Scully replies and smiles. Mulder nods and smiles back. "Come on Mulder, lets find that campsite! I am starving!" She leads him down the path tucking her arm through his.

About forty-five minutes later the agents have reached their campsite.

"How do you know this is the right one?" asks Scully. Mulder points to a #42 sign nailed to a tree.

"Let me guess, you requested this one for a reason," says Scully.

"Well, it does create good Karma," says Mulder shrugging.

Their gear is stacked neatly in the center of the site next to a campfire circle. Scully looks up to see their food provisions hanging up in a tree by a rope that has been staked into the ground.

"Lets just hope that bear isn't around, because I'm really starving," says Scully.

Mulder pulls the bundle down and they make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with lemonade. They sit down on a fallen log and eat their lunch. They say little as they each enjoy the quietness that the forest offers them in comparison to their busy, hectic lives in the city.

"You've got to admit it Scully, its pretty refreshing out here," says Mulder taking a bite of his sandwich.

"It is Mulder. No cars, no pollution, no meetings and no CSM. At least I hope so," says Scully turning around and scanning the surroundings.

"Didn't you recognize an amazing likeness in that bear?" asks Mulder. "Maybe CSM rented a bear suit."

"I would hope that he had better things to do Mulder. Like planning some global conspiracy or infiltrating people's e-mail," replies Scully.

After they are finished with their lunch Mulder replaces their provision bundle in the tree and the agents turn to the gear on the ground.

"The first thing we should do is set up the tents," says Scully. Mulder and Scully each grab a green tent.

"Just follow the diagram Scully," says Mulder screwing two poles together.

Twenty minutes later Scully has her tent completely assembled. Mulder is sitting on the ground turning the diagram around. He scratches his head. "I think there is a part missing from this tent Scully."

Scully comes over and sits down next to him. She takes the diagram from him and glances at the twisted pretzel-like structure that Mulder has attempted to build. "Just take it apart Mulder. Its wrong," says Scully.

"It is not wrong Scully. there's something missing," says Mulder defensively He gets up and kicks the tent.

"Breaking it is not going to help Mulder," says Scully. She gets up and walks over to the tent and starts to take it apart. Ten minutes later she has it assembled.

"I never knew how good you were with your hands Scully. You amaze me," says Mulder. Scully laughs to herself at the double meaning.

"Well for safety I think we should arrange the tents closely," says Mulder dragging his over next to Scully's. "Just in case you need me during the night." He grabs his backpack and then crawls into his tent. Scully leans over and observes him doing this.

"Two weeks of this," says Scully to herself as she grabs her own backpack and sleeping bag. She crawls in her own tent and then comes back out.


"Yeah," says Mulder parting the flaps of his tent and sticking his head out.

"You forgot your sleeping bag," says Scully throwing it at him. He barely catches it and falls back into his tent.

"Thanks Scullee," Mulder moans.

After fixing their respective tents Mulder and Scully start sorting the rest of the supplies. "There is a note here from Kate. She says that she'll be back in a couple of days to give us a lift back for showers," says Mulder.

"Oh God. I totally forgot about that," says Scully. She self consciously pulls her shirt forward and sniffs herself. She is relieved that her hike hasn't caused her to smell bad. She looks up and Mulder is giving her an amused look.

"She says we can clean up daily in the river that is just over the bend," says Mulder looking at his compass and pointing it in a Westerly direction.

"A river? How rustic are we going to get Mulder," asks Scully.

"Isn't it great?" asks Mulder.

"Yeah, just great Mulder. You're really getting your ya ya's out aren't you," Scully replies.

Mulder nods and smiles. He pulls out a collapsible fishing pole out of a bag. "I'm off to catch our dinner Scully," announces Mulder.

Scully raises her eyebrows at Mulder. "Mulder you aren't serious? Fishing?"

"There is another pole if you want to join in," replies Mulder.

Scully thinks for a moment - she truly wants to change her image of being unapproachable. She wants to please Mulder. How bad could fishing be?

"Sure. Why not," says Scully getting up from the ground.

"Really?" asks Mulder.

"Yeah," replies Scully.

Mulder pulls another pole out of the bag. He hands it to Scully and they head out to the river.

"One condition Mulder," says Scully. "You bait the hook."

Mulder stops in his tracks and looks at Scully. "You do autopsies and you can't bait a hook?"

"I don't like worms," says Scully.

"With everything we have seen you can't handle worms? What about Ice Cape, Alaska?" asks Mulder.

"That was necessary," replies Scully.

"But Scully..," continues Mulder.

"Mulder shut up. I'm off duty and if I want to be a little girlie on this trip I will be," says Scully walking ahead of him.

"Okay whatever...Miss Dana," replies Mulder jogging to catch up with her.

He gives her a sideways glance which Scully returns with a smile and flirtatious look in her eye. She looks forward again.

"Whats gotten into her?" Mulder thinks to himself. "She agreed to come here. She hasn't really argued with me, has let me do guy things for her, let me share her bed and whats the deal with that teal colored teddy? Could it be true? Is she using this trip to seduce me?"

Mulder smiles and accidentally speaks aloud. "Oh yeah!!"

"Oh yeah what?" asks Scully.

"Oh, umm oh yeah I should have brought the camcorder," replies Mulder.

"Why?" asks Scully.

"To have proof if something happens," replies Mulder.

"Nothing is going to happen Mulder," says Scully.

"You sure about that Scully?" asks Mulder as they reach the edge of the river. Mulder gathers worms and baits Scully's hook and then picks up his own. He is baiting the hook when it slips and the hook pierces his finger. "Sh*t," he exclaims. Scully comes over quickly and takes his hand. She examines the cut and then pulls a tissue out of her pocket. She wraps his finger in it and squeezes it. Finally it stops bleeding.

"You'll live," says Scully.

"Thank you Mom," replies Mulder.

Scully sighs and gives Mulder a funny look. "Come on Mulder, lets fish."

The two agents sit down side by side and Mulder teaches Scully how to cast her line.

"Hang onto it Scully! You've got it," yells Mulder as Scully struggles with the large fish on the end of her line. She holds the pole with both of her hands as she digs her feet into the river bank. The pole is bent completely over and she can hardly keep it from flying out of her hands.

"Start reeling it in before he snaps the line," says Mulder dashing over to her.

"I can't risk letting go to put my hand on the reel," says Scully as the fish jumps out of the water.

"Did you see the size of that fish Scully? that's going to be dinner for tonight and tomorrow," says Mulder.

"There won't be any dinner Mulder if I end up losing this," says Scully as she suddenly gets pulled closer to the edge of the river. A few seconds later she is up to her ankles in water. "Mulder, don't just stand there, help me," says Scully looking over her shoulder.

"You're asking for my assistance Ms. Scully?" asks Mulder.

"Yes!," says Scully. Mulder reaches out and starts to turn the reel for her. The fish has tired out a little bit, but just when it looks like the end for the finned creature a new burst of energy radiates from its slimy body. It jumps back out of the water and then heads full force back across the river away from the agents. Scully can't hold on and starts to fall. Mulder lets go of the reel and in a desperate last attempt grabs Scully from behind around the waist. He holds on with all of his strength, but the fish is cunning by stopping and then suddenly starting up again. Scully bends her knees trying to avoid landing in the water, but its no use. All of sudden she loses her balance falling face down in the foot deep water, taking Mulder with her. He lands on top of her pinning her under the water.

"Sclubbee!," yells Mulder swallowing a mouthful of water.

Scully wrestles to get out from under Mulder. "Moldarrr glet loff mlee," gulps Scully as her head rises to the surface of the water.

Mulder quickly pulls himself and Scully out of the water. "Are you okay Scully?" Mulder asks as he puts his arm around her.

"Yes I am fine," says Scully as she bends over and starts coughing. Mulder pounds her on the back. She looks up and across the pond. "Damn it. I lost the fish and the pole. I guess we won't be getting our deposit back for that lost equipment."

"Forget it," says Mulder. "We've got enough fish with those two fish I caught. Lets head back to camp. It's almost dusk and we've got to start up the campfire and get out of these wet clothes." Mulder retrieves his fishing pole and fish and leads Scully back to the campsite. They are both totally soaked and miserably cold.

Scully goes into her tent and changes into her pajamas. She drags her sleeping bag outside and discovers Mulder has already built up the fire and apparently he is in his tent changing too. She gets inside her sleeping bag and wraps herself in it. She is freezing and her teeth start to chatter. Mulder comes out of his tent with his own sleeping bag. He has put on pajamas bottoms but no shirt. He steps in his own sleeping bag and sits down next to the fire across from Scully. He cleans and cooks the fish as Scully watches and the two of them feast on the meal. Darkness falls and Scully is feeling much warmer now. Mulder pulls a deck of cards out of no where and scoots around the fire to Scully. "You want to play go fish?" he asks smirking.

"Very funny. Lets play poker," says Scully.

"Poker? Strip poker? that's not fair Scully. I'll lose the first bad move I make," teases Mulder.

Scully's face turns just a tinge of pink. "No not that type of poker Mulder. I think we should play truth poker."

"Whats truth poker? Is this truth or dare? Are you going to ask me to kiss a tree or something?" asks Mulder.

"No. Everytime you lose a round you have to answer a question I ask you," says Scully.

"And if you lose I get to ask you a question?" asks Mulder.

"Yes," replies Scully grabbing the cards from his hand and shuffling them.

"This could get really interesting," says Mulder.

The agents start playing and Scully loses the first round. "What is your favorite color?" asks Mulder.

"Green," replies Scully.

The next round Mulder loses. "Okay, whats your favorite color?" asks Scully

"I can't really answer that. I'm color blind remember?" replies Mulder.

"No, I don't remember that you ever told me that," says Scully. "I guess that can count as your answer."

Scully loses the next time. "What was the scariest thing you ever saw?" asks Mulder.

"The flukeman," replies Scully.

Mulder loses again and so he answers, "The scariest thing I ever saw was the inside of that rubber room at the sanitarium."

Again Scully loses. "What did you think of me the first time I met you?" asks Mulder leaning on his elbow as he shuffles the deck. "And tell the truth. All of it."

"I thought you looked a little nerdy in those glasses," replies Scully. Mulder gives her an amused look. "But, then you know what they say 'smart is sexy'," says Scully. "What did you think of me when you first saw me," asks Scully.

"No fair. that's a free question," says Mulder.

"I don't care," says Scully stretching out and laying out on her back. She yawns. "Just answer the question." She closes her eyes and waits for his answer.

"I thought you were the prettiest little spy I had ever encountered and I had wished I had met you under different circumstances when you had joined the bureau two years earlier," replies Mulder staring at the relaxed Scully. 'God how I wish I could just tell her how I really feel.' He stares at her beautiful face and soft lips. He wishes he could just lean over and place his lips against hers, but then he may end up with a fist in his face. However, maybe it wouldn't work that way. He decides to be good.

"Scully, its been a long day. You're really tired. Why don't you go get snug in your tent and get a little shuteye," says Mulder. He tucks a lock of her hair behind her ear.

"Hmm. Yeah you're right Mulder," says Scully sitting up. She gathers her sleeping bag up and starts to turn toward her tent. "You know Mulder that when I first walked into your office, that wasn't really the first time we met."

Mulder stares at her. "Of course it was. I never met you before that."

Scully smiles. "Quantico 1991. I was coming from a introductory criminal profiling class and I turned the corner really fast. One of my instructors was talking to a an agent that was returning to get an opinion on something. When I came around the corner I slammed into this guy and I dropped my book on his foot. I felt really stupid, but he bent over and picked up my book for me and said that if I had as good aim with a gun as that book that I was a pint sized menace to society."

Mulder looks astounded as he remembers. "That was you?!"

Scully nods. "I happened to call my sister that night and she asked me how everything was going at the Academy and if I had met anyone interesting. I told her that everything was going great and that joining the FBI had indeed been the best decision I ever made. I mentioned that I had bumped into this guy that day and she asked me what he was like. I said, 'I don't know anything about him Melissa. I've never seen him before, but all I know is that he is a real fox." Scully turns toward her tent. "Good night Mulder."

Mulder stares after her. "Good night Scully."

The next morning Scully awakens to the sound of birds singing. She sits up and stretches. Her body is sore after being cramped into the tent for so many hours. No matter how beautiful the scenery is, there is no comparison to her soft bed at home. 'Twelve more days of this' she thinks to herself. She dresses herself in a pair of jean shorts and a white t-shirt with her sneakers and crawls out of the tent. She hears a snore coming from the tent next to her and is surprised that Mulder has not awaken yet. Being an insomniac it seems that he never sleeps. She walks up to the tent and noticing that his bare foot is sticking out of the opening. She just can't help picking a nearby fern and running it along the bottom of his foot. He jumps up a mile and the next thing she knows she is looking down the barrel of a gun.

"Mulder, its me," says Scully.

"You can't just sneak up on a guy like that Scully. I could have shot you," says Mulder looking at her with concern.

"I'm sorry, I didn't think it would startle you so much. I was only teasing," says Scully looking down as she walks away.

Mulder dresses in a pair of khaki hiking shorts and a tan t-shirt with his hiking boots. He grabs the camcorder and crawls out of his tent. Scully has pulled down the food provisions and is eating a danish with a bottle of spring water. She tosses one of the sealed pastries to Mulder who catches it. "Ah, Scully you made me breakfast," he says sarcastically.

"Only for you Mulder," says Scully taking another bite of her danish.

Mulder opens his danish and walks toward Scully. "I think we should go for a hike today and see what we can find," says Mulder. Scully picks up her bottle of water and raises it to her lips to take a sip. Mulder grabs it from her hand instead and chugs down half of the bottle and then hands it back to her. He wipes his mouth on his arm and sits down next to her.

"Mulder, just because we are currently living in the forest you don't have to act totally like an animal," says Scully handing him a paper towel.

The agents finish up their breakfast and then hit the trail walking side by side. Once again Mulder starts narrating. "It is April 18th, 2000 and Agent Dana Scully and myself have ventured into the forest in search of that creature called Bigfoot. Although this creature is known for its timid nature I am indeed armed in case of an emergency."

"As I am as well," says Scully bringing Mulder's attention to the holster that she has attached to the waistband of her shorts.

Mulder continues. "We survived the first night feeding on the bounty of the land and despite a near drowning Agent Scully is feeling quite chipper this morning." He swings the camera to face Scully who turns her head. "Agent Scully although feeling chipper does not wish to be photographed on this trip. She is afraid that someone may mistake her for being a believer and that couldn't possibly be true because that would mean she would have to agree with her crazy partner, reportedly nicknamed Spooky Mulder."

"Mulder, turn the damn camera off," says Scully putting her hand over the lens. "This feels like that documentary we did with those cops."

"You are ruining my vacation," says Mulder turning the camera off.

"Your vacation? What about my vacation?" asks Scully.

"I told you what we would be doing on this trip. What did you think we would be doing?" asks Mulder stopping to stare at her.

"Hiking and looking for Bigfoot, but I didn't know you would have a camera on me the entire time," says Scully.

"I just want documentation of your beautiful presence on this trip Scully," says Mulder giving her the puppy eyes. Scully rolls her eyes at him.

"Flattery can only get you so far Mulder," says Scully.

"Really Scully? How far will it get me if I say how smart, beautiful and caring you are?" asks Mulder.

"Not if it were raining sleeping bags," says Scully walking away.

"I love it when she teases me," says Mulder following her.

Three hours later they are still walking. "Mulder, my feet really hurt. We're not going to find anything," says Scully as she lags behind.

"Just a little further Scully. We are almost there," says Mulder walking with the compass in his hand.

"Are you sure you really know how to use that," asks Scully stopping.

Mulder turns around. "You have no confidence in me Scully. Don't you trust me?"

"Of course I trust you. Its just I don't trust your ability to use a compass adequately," replies Scully walking up beside him.

Mulder scans the scene before him. There is a clearing with some boulders. All of a sudden he spots something brown move behind one of the boulders.

"Scully! I think I just saw something with brown fur walk by."

Scully looks slightly concerned. "It better not be that bear. So help me God if you're packing sunflower seeds again."

"I don't think its the bear," says Mulder getting really excited. He turns the camera on and slowly walks nearer to the clearing.

"Mulder, I don't think this is a very good idea. Maybe we would be safer doing this stakeout in a tree or something," says Scully following. Mulder is not really listening as adjusts the picture. He grabs Scully's arm and pulls her to his side.

"Look Scully. Its here."

Scully looks toward where Mulder is taping and her mouth drops open. She can't believe her eyes. The creature from Mulder's video is standing behind a tree staring at them.

"Oh My God," she says gaping. "Mulder, are you filming this?"

"You bet," says Mulder just as the camcorder stops. Mulder pulls it away from his face to look at it. "Damn it! The batteries ran out."

"You're kidding me. Mulder, this is the biggest scientific discovery in history and we can't tape it?" asks Scully. "I told you not to use the camcorder too much, now we can't tape anything!"

"I brought my regular camera too," says Mulder reaching into his pocket. He pulls out the camera and presses the on button. He turns back to the clearing and raises the camera to his eye. He scans across the clearing and then pulls it away from his face. "Where did it go? Its gone!"

"Oh Mulder," says Scully putting her hand on his shoulder. "You missed it. One of your biggest goals and its gone. Don't worry we'll see it again." Mulder nods as he puts away the camera.

The agents decide to go back to the campsite. They eat a late lunch and then sit down and debate their next move. "Do you have extra batteries," asks Scully.

"Yeah I've got enough for two more changes," says Mulder. "They are rechargeable so Kate can take them back for us."

The agents sit around and read books that they have brought for the occasion. Scully reads a medical digest and Mulder reads a book on the occult. Its getting late and the sky seems to be getting darker. They decide to eat an early dinner as the sky continues to get darker by the minute.

"Mulder, I think we are in for a storm," says Scully looking up. Just then a huge thunder clap sounds. Minutes later it starts to pour. The agents dash to their tents with their reading materials to wait it out. Two hours later it is still raining and the wind is picking up. Scully is curled up in her sleeping bag and thinking to herself what the real reason for her being here is. The wind is whipping the top of the tent in and out and she is afraid that its going to blow away with her in it. Just then the flap of her tent opens and a soaked Mulder sticks his head in with a flashlight.

"It's getting really bad Scully. I don't know if its a good idea for us to be separated right now. I'll grab your bag. Take your sleeping bag and get in my tent." Scully nods as Mulder gathers up her bag. She exits the tent and gets pelted with not rain, but hail. She crawls in the other tent and lays out her sleeping bag next to Mulder's. The tents are really small and there won't be hardly any room between them. Mulder enters soaked with her bag. Just then there is a huge thunderclap and a crash. Mulder sticks his head outside and then he crawls back into the tent and sits on his sleeping bag. "A huge limb just fell on your tent," he says looking her in the eye. "If you had been inside the tent.." He stops and looks down. Scully reaches over and runs her hand along his jaw and then takes his chin in her hand raising his eyes to meet hers.

"But I wasn't," she says softly..

"It was fate that led you to me tonight. You always seem to know when I am in trouble. You're always there when I need you." She starts to remove her hand from Mulder's face, but he grabs her hand in his instead. He pulls it to his lips instead and gives the back of her hand a kiss.

"I'm not always there Scully. Otherwise Donnie Phaster would never have gotten to you. Or that Tooms guy, Phillip Padgett's killer or that kook with the lobotomy hang-up. And lets not forget CSM or Antarctica," says Mulder sadly holding her hand.

"Mulder, you can't be with me all of the time. I don't want you blaming yourself. You don't have to protect me, just support me," says Scully. "That what partners are for."

"I always find you, but what if next time I'm too late" replies Mulder. "We've been lucky for seven years. What if our good luck has run out?"

"Mulder, our luck is not going to run out. Its not just you doing the rescuing. I tend to remember finding you in the arctic once. Oh and lets not forget the Bermuda Triangle, that trailer from hell, when that oil refinery blew up and a few more times that I rescued your butt," says Scully.

Mulder smiles as he remembers. "You have been my guardian angel for seven years. You know I would probably have been dead by now if it weren't for you. Either that or the bureau would have had me committed if you hadn't been trying to convince them that I was sane."

"Hmm I hold a lot of power in that sense don't I?" asks Scully.

"What do you mean?" asks Mulder.

"Well if I wanted you to stay out of trouble I could just tell them that you aren't mentally sound for work, but then they may just decide its opened a window for them to get rid of the biggest thorn in their side," says Scully.

"You would get a new partner. Maybe someone who went by the book more. Maybe that would be a good thing," says Mulder.

"It may be good, but where would I get my entertainment Mulder," asks Scully.

"I'd leave a few of those videos that aren't mine in my desk or rather it would be your desk then," replies Mulder.

"I don't need those videos Mulder. You don't need fantasies when you know what you really want in life," says Scully her blue eyes sparkling.

"And what do you want in life Agent Dana Scully," asks Mulder looking at her.

"This, Agent Fox Mulder," says Scully as she puts her right hand behind Mulder's neck. She pulls his lips to hers and she finally does what she has wanted for seven years. Given him a kiss, a real kiss and not like that chaste New Years Kiss either.

Mulder is shocked, but this new side of Scully intrigues him. When her lips met his he thought he was having a daydream, but its not a dream its reality. He is finally kissing the most important person in his life. He deepens the kiss and Scully sighs with relief that he hasn't rejected her. He wraps his arms around her back and rising to his knees he pulls her to him. His mouth leaves hers and he nuzzles her neck.

Scully moans and runs her hands through his hair. She wishes she hadn't waited so long to make a move, but she had been afraid. Sheila Fontaine was right when she had said, 'trust me, the man knows how to kiss'. Mulder moves to kiss her mouth again and then he makes a move of his own. He slowly starts to lift up her t-shirt and run his hands over her bare back.

Scully pulls away from his kiss and looks in Mulder's eye. She sees his green eyes turn from being passion filled to hold a look of disappointment,

She is rejecting me he thinks to himself. I should have known better. Scully would never let herself go like that. She wants to stick to the straight and narrow.

"Mulder, we can't do this," says Scully looking at him.

Mulder runs his hand through his hair and nods. He was right, she is stopping herself from becoming involved.

"Not yet," says Scully. She reaches her hand into her backpack and pulls the teal teddy out of it and holds it in front of Mulder's face. "I want to properly wrap your long overdue present."

Mulder's eyes drop from Scully's passion filled eyes to the teddy and then back to Scully. His mouth drops open. Its the first time he can't find anything funny to say because he's not laughing.

"Mulder? Mulder? Earth to Mulder," says Scully. Mulder looks like he has seen a ghost as he looks toward the flap of the tent. She reaches out and turns his face towards hers. "Mulder, whats wrong?"

"I think I heard something," says Mulder looking from Scully and back at the flap.

"You couldn't have. Mulder, there's a thunderstorm out there." She thinks to herself , 'that's Mulder, ruin the moment with an X-File."

"No, I know I heard something," says Mulder moving to get up. "I'm going to check it out."

"Mulder, will you just stop for once?" she grabs his arm.

"Hold that thought Scully," says Mulder tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear. He then crawls out of the tent into the rain. Scully looks at the teddy in her hand and sighs. She looks toward the flap of the tent and tosses the teddy aside. She crawls out of the tent and like always follows Mulder. Once outside the rain drenches her instantly. She looks for Mulder but can't see him.

"Mulder, where are you!," she yells into the rain.

"I'm right here," says Mulder coming up behind her. She jumps a foot.

"Jesus Mulder!," exclaims Scully. "Did you find what you were looking for?"

"No, but I know I heard something." He leans into the tent and pulls out a flashlight. "Aha, look at this Scully. Evidence, scientific proof that there was something here." He aims the beam toward a trail of foot prints in the mud. "I'm going to follow them." He starts to walk along the trail.

"Mulder, wait until its light out. This is a major storm and its not going to be good to be out in it," says Scully as she catches hold of his arm and attempts to convince him to put off his search. "Besides how do we know these are real? Someone could have planted them here for us to find."

"There goes my little sceptic again," says Mulder. "Come on Scully you said you were going to be open to new things on this trip and up until a few minutes ago you were really surprising me." Mulder raises his eyebrows and motions to the tent. Scully thanks God for the darkness and she blushes a deep red. "Scully don't abandon me now." He gently pulls away from her and heads into the woods.

"At least let me grab some gear!," yells Scully. She sticks her head in the tent and grabs another flashlight and the two rain slickers that Kate had given them. She then turns and jogs to catch up to Mulder who has waited. He gives a grin as she passes him the slicker.

"I knew you would follow me anywhere," says Mulder walking away from her.

"Well aren't you just being the conceited one," says Scully following. The sad thing is that she knows he is right.

They follow the tracks through the forest until they reach a point where the tracks weave into several trails with all trails having identical tracks. "Mulder, we could go on forever," says Scully motioning to the other trails. Mulder walks away and then turns toward her. "Its here. Its trying to trick us."

Just then they hear a roar and something runs by knocking Mulder to the ground. Scully reaches for her gun, but she realizes that she hasn't brought one. She rushes to Mulder and drops to her knees next to him. "Mulder, are you all right?"

"Yeah," says Mulder rolling to his side and then sitting up. "Whatever hit me felt like a train." Scully helps him to his feet. She looks around cautiously and then she feels something watching them.

"Mulder, I think its still out there. Why is it watching us if its so gentle?" asks Scully.

"Its curious about us Scully. Its not everyday that it sees humans. We are as strange to it as its strange to us."

"Mulder lets go back and continue this tomorrow. I'm getting the creeps from being out here and I just want to get dry. We'll be lucky if we don't get pneumonia."

"Okay Scully. We've come really far and I guess that we can continue in the morning," says Mulder. He takes her hand. "Thanks for humoring me."

"Well I have to admit Mulder, there is something out here. We've seen it twice now," says Scully.

"It was music to my ears when the fair agent Scully admitted that there was something out there," says Mulder pulling Scully towards him. They give each other a smile and then Mulder leans down to kiss her. Just as their lips touch, there is another roar and the creature rushes them. This time both agents land on the ground with Mulder landing on Scully. He rolls off her.

"You okay Scully?" asks Mulder concerned as he helps to sit up.

"Yeah, I think so," says Scully wincing as she presses her ribcage. I think my ribs got bruised, but nothings broken. "We've got to get out of here now Mulder." The two agents get to their feet and Mulder again takes her hand. "I think the creature is trying to separate us, but I don't know why. Which way is out?"

"Which way? I thought you knew which way," says Scully as the two of them scan the several trails in front of them.

"We're lost," says Mulder shrugging to Scully. "We'll just have to wait it out until the morning and then try to find our way back."

"Mulder! We are probably miles from our campsite with no idea which way to go. there's something out there that's stalking us and I don't want to spend the night out in the open in the middle of the forest!," yells Scully.

Mulder walks away to sit next to a large tree. He motions Scully over and she finally sits down next to him. "Its stopped raining right Scully?" She nods. Mulder puts his arm around Scully and pulls her to him. "We'll be fine Scully. I'll always protect you and you know that."

"I don't need you protecting me Mulder," says Scully softly, her head resting on Mulder's chest. She leans up and looks at him. "You're the one who needs baby-sitting. You're always running off and I have to be there to pick up the pieces."

Mulder gives her a smile and then leans down to kiss her again. Scully responds most enthusiastically until Mulder makes a move to put his hand down her slicker. "No. There's no sleeping bags now and I am not about let our first time be out here in a muddy forest," says Scully resting her head on Mulder's chest and shutting her eyes.

'I wish it would start raining again', thinks Mulder to himself. 'Maybe this time it would rain sleeping bags.'

The morning sunrise awakens Mulder. Scully is still asleep. He hears a twig snap in the woods and he reluctantly awakens her. "Scully." He gently runs his finger along her jaw and she sighs and tightens her hold on him. "Scully, you've got to get up. I heard a noise again."

Scully opens her eyes and then sits up. "Mulder, do you think its that thing again?" she asks.

"I don't know," says Mulder standing up and extending his hand to Scully. She takes it and gets up as well. The agents cautiously scan their surroundings. The sound of someone or something walking through the forest reaches their ears. Its getting louder and judging from the noise its making its getting closer. Mulder instinctively pushes Scully behind him as he waits for their visitor to make their appearance. He is weaponless as well. One of the few times that he has been careless in his career, but then this wasn't supposed to be an official trip. He had brought his gun, but it was back in the tent.

Just then the agents hear a voice from the woods. "Hey folks! I got a little worried there when you weren't at your campsite. I noticed one of the tents had been smashed up during the storm and thought maybe you tried to take shelter somewhere or maybe the Sasquatch had got ya," says Kate appearing.

"Thank God," says Scully. "We saw it. We saw Bigfoot. It attacked both of us and we got lost trying to figure out what path led back to the campsite. Can you lead us back Kate?"

"I got one better than that. You've been camping now for a couple of days. How about a hot shower?" asks Kate.

"Now that sounds really good," says Scully looking at Mulder. "Lets go get cleaned up."

"My jeep is just parked over beyond those trees over there," says Kate. "We'll stop at your campsite to grab anything you may need and then we'll head back to the trailer park." She leads the agents to her jeep and Scully hops in the front with Kate and Mulder sits in the back. At the campsite Scully starts to gather up her things.

"We may as well leave everything here Scully," says Mulder. "We'll be back before you know it."

"You want to come back here Mulder?" asks Scully looking amazed.

"Why wouldn't I? We have eleven more days on our trip," says Mulder. Scully nods reluctantly and the two agents both get into the back seat of the jeep this time.

"I have a question for you," says Kate as she drives along. "I didn't think that the FBI investigated these kinds of things. Do you belong to a special unit or something?"

"No, there's just the two of us," says Scully. "We investigate the X-Files which are cases that can't be solved."

"In other words they involve a paranormal tinge to them," says Mulder. "My partner has a problem with accepting that this is the reason the cases have been put aside as unsolvable. Although after being by my side for seven years I must say that recently she has become somewhat of a believer." He smiles at Scully who looks embarrassed.

"I usually only accept scientific fact," says Scully to Kate. "But I've been trying to have more of an open mind lately. Its really new for me, so I really can't say whether or not I am a true believer."

"Well you just said that you saw something out there," says Kate. "How can science explain that?"

"Well obviously its a genetic mutation," says Scully. "DNA is a cause and effect type of system. By changing one little gene in our bodies our whole makeup changes."

Mulder rolls his eyes. "She still hasn't accepted that science isn't always the answer, but then she hasn't accepted it yet that she is in love with me for my mind and not just my body."

Scully turns to him and gives him a warning look.

"I didn't think FBI partners could be involved," says Kate. "I mean I know that the attraction must obviously be there. Working close in dangerous life threatening situations. Dealing with stress and death everyday. Having no one to confide in that truly understands. Of course good looks do help and obviously you both are all set in that department."

Mulder looks at Scully who turns her head in embarrassment. 'She doesn't think that she is beautiful' he thinks to himself. He plans on telling her just how beautiful he thinks she really is.

Kate pulls up to the trailer park and lets the agents out. "The trailer you two stayed in before is still open. So you are welcome to use the shower if you want to. Mulder offers to let Scully use the shower first and she nods as she starts to enter the trailer.

"I'll go see about renting you another tent Scully," says Mulder following Kate toward the office.

"Don't bother Mulder," says Scully winking and then shutting the trailer door.

Mulder walks into the office and sees Howie behind the counter. "Hey Howie, hows it going?" asks Mulder.

"Good Mr. Mulder. We have a message here for you from someone names Walter Skinner."

"What did he want?', asks Mulder suspiciously.

"He just wanted you to call him and he wants to know if Agent Scully is with you. He needed to speak to you and couldn't reach either of you. He apparently did a search for you on major flights and found that you had bought two first class tickets to California. His exact words were, 'What the hell is going on?"

"He is totally overreacting," says Mulder. "Agent Scully and I are not on official business. We are here because we have been given two weeks of unpaid leave regarding a dispute on a case.

"It gets worse," says Howie.

"How can it get worse?" asks Mulder.

"He is coming here. He is on his way," says Howie.

"When did he call?" asks Mulder cringing.

"Three hours ago," replies Howie.

"Three hours. Okay..," says Mulder walking toward the door. He walks across the clearing to the door of the trailer. He opens it and smiles as he sees a trail of clothing leading to the bathroom.

He knocks on the door of the bathroom. "Scully, you almost done in there? I really need a shower." The water stops and a couple of minutes pass before Scully opens the door dressed in a bathrobe.

"Its all yours," says Scully walking past him.

All Mulder can think about is a hot shower. He is tired and sore from being attacked twice by that awful monster last night. He spends a leisurely amount of time enjoying something that he normally took for granted. Twenty minutes later he exits the bathroom wearing just his boxers. He walks into the bedroom part of the trailer and sees Scully looking out the window still wearing her bathrobe.

"I need some fresh clothes" says Mulder pulling open a drawer where he had stashed some of his extra things.

"Yeah, I'm going to take some of my things back to the campsite too," says Scully turning to watch him search through the drawer.

He turns to see her staring at him in his boxers. "We may not be able to stay as long as we would of liked Scully," says Mulder.

"Why not?" asks Scully.

"Skinner tracked us down. He's on his way here," says Mulder sighing as he runs his hand through his hair. "He called about three hours ago and knowing Skinner he is on a plane right now."

Scully approaches Mulder and wipes away a droplet of water from his forehead with the tie of her bathrobe.

"Well that doesn't leave us much time," says Scully kicking the door to the bedroom shut.

"Time for what?" asks Mulder.

"Time to continue where we left off last night," says Scully untying her robe and dropping it to the floor. She is dressed in the teal teddy for real this time and Mulder's eyes widen as he looks from her eyes to her body. She steps nearer to him and runs her hand along his jaw, down his neck and along his chest. Leaning into him she pulls him down into a kiss and he wraps his arms around her. She runs her hands through his hair as their kiss deepens.

As he moves to nuzzle her neck he whispers in her ear, "Are you sure this is what you really want Scully?"

"Its what I've wanted from the very beginning," she whispers back as her grip on him tightens.

He pulls away from her and holding both of her hands in his he bends his knees so he is looking her straight in the eye. He gives her a little smile and says, "Me too." He leans in and kisses her once again. She wraps her arms around his neck as he lifts her and pulls her onto the bed.

The seven years of waiting is all over.

Walter Skinner approaches the desk of the Lazy Acre Trailer Park and rings the bell. Kate comes from the backroom and greets him. "Hey there Sir! My name is Kate. How can I help you?"

"I called a few hours ago regarding a couple of FBI agents. Their names are Mulder and Scully. I received information regarding their approximate location and I being concerned for their safety I flew right out here. After making a few telephone calls on the airplane I found out their scheduled agenda. Where can I find them?" Skinner looks around the office and then glances back at Kate.

"Oh, you must be Mr. Skinner," says Kate. "You spoke to Howie on the phone?"

"Yes, I'm Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I've flown here from Washington DC and I need a place to stay temporarily. However, I need to speak to Agents Mulder and Scully right away. There seems to be problem regarding their current "investigation."

Kate nods. "I thought they had said that they weren't here on official business. I'll can tell you that they are here looking for Bigfoot like everyone else that comes through these parts.

"Well I don't really care why they are here. I just want to talk to them regarding some of the expenses that they have been charging to the bureau regarding their... ah vacation," says Skinner rolling his eyes at Kate. "Ma'am could you just let me know where I can find them?"

"Well their trailer is the first one on the left," says Kate. "I don't know if they will be there as they just came back to shower. They've been staying in the woods, but there was a really bad storm last night. Somehow they ended up getting lost. I found them stranded in the forest. I had gotten a little concerned last night when I found the smashed tent."

"Smashed tent?" asks Skinner frowning.

"Well one of their tents had a large tree branch lying on top of it," says Kate. "Luckily one of them didn't get killed."

Skinner nods. "Those two are always escaping from some dangerous situation. They aren't escaping from me though. I'm going to kick their butts good for going off and not telling me that they were using bureau funds for investigating a personal cause. Especially after being reprimanded for two weeks for the same exact thing. I have a feeling that Agent Mulder has gotten a little charge happy with his bureau credit card."

"Speaking of charging," says Kate. "If you still need somewhere to stay I only take cash." She points to the sign.

Skinner makes a face and pulls out a couple of bills and tosses them onto the counter.

"You can take the second trailer on the left. You'll be right behind them," says Kate.

"You must mean I'll be between them," says Skinner. "They can't be staying in the same trailer. Its against bureau policy for opposite sex partners to be staying together."

"Oh really," says Kate. "Well I was short on accommodations so they had no choice. Like I said before they've been staying out in tents in the woods," says Kate. "But they haven't requested a new tent," says Kate under her breath.

"What was that?" asks Skinner.

"Oh nothing," says Kate smiling brightly. "Heres your key. Enjoy your stay Mr. Skinner. If you want to rent any gear for hiking or camping let me know. I've got anything you may need."

"Thank you..Kate was it?" Skinner walks out the door and across the trailer park carrying his small suitcase. He reaches the first trailer on the left and looks around. It seems too quiet. He knocks on the door and there is no answer so he tries the door. The door opens and he steps inside. Looking around he can't help but see what a mess the trailer is. Empty bottles of iced tea sit on the countertop and sunflower seed shells layer the carpet. He sees women's clothing forming a trail to the bathroom and then sees men's clothes on the floor in the bathroom. Dirty towels are thrown haphazardly in the shower.

He walks out of the bathroom and turns to see a closed door. He knocks on the door. "Agents Mulder and Scully are you in there?" says Skinner loudly. He knocks again. He hears a noise but he is not sure what it is. He pulls his gun and then kicks the door in. The room is empty, but it is a mess as well. He kicks aside a bathrobe lying on the floor and scans the surrounding. An unmade rumpled bed is the highlight of the room. He notices a pair of boxer shorts sticking out from under the bed.

"This is disgusting. They are living like pigs," says Skinner aloud. "I would expect his from Agent Mulder, but I can't believe Agent Scully would be living like this."

He walks towards the bed and that's when something catches his eye. He leans over and pulls something caught in the sheets. His mouth drops open as he holds up a teal colored satin teddy.

"What the hell is going on here?!," he yells as notices the open window for the first time. He walks over to the window and looks out and looks in both directions. "I am definitely going to kick their butts if they're doing what I think they are doing," says Skinner to himself.

Skinner turns away from the window . He glances around the rest of the trailer before stepping out into the midday sun. He sees Kate approaching him.

"Did you find your agents?" she asks smiling at him.

"No. It appears they aren't here right now," says Skinner. Kate looks down to see something crumpled in Skinner's hand. Skinner follows her look to his hand and quickly hides the teddy behind his back. "I'm not sure what is going on here, but obviously there must be a good explanation," says Skinner looking embarrassed. "You are sure that both agents stayed here?" He turns slightly and points back into the trailer.

"Of course I am sure. I took the reservation myself. Agent Mulder said that he needed to rent a trailer for him and his partner for one night. He never specified that he was an FBI agent, therefore I thought he meant his wife."

"He's not married," says Skinner.

"Well I know that now," says Kate. "But when they arrived I greeted Mr. and Mrs. Mulder and that's when she corrected me. She told me that they were FBI partners, but it was too late at that point. I only had the one trailer and that's where it got really funny."

"How?" asks Skinner shifting his weight and putting his chin in his hand.

"Well Agent Scully was so adamant about not being mistaken as a couple, but she didn't protest a whole lot when it was apparent there was no alternative for them. She actually said, 'that it was only for one night and they would manage somehow'. That was actually after they debated over the definition of significant other.

"What?" says Skinner frowning.

"Well she said that she wasn't really his significant other, but he said not in the widely used definition. I'm not one to gossip about office relationships, but I've got to tell you I think there is something going on with them behind the scenes, if you know what I mean," says Kate.

"that's impossible," says Skinner. "They are close, but if they were having a relationship I would be the first to find out." He feels the teddy in his hand and finally turns slightly and tosses it into the trailer. He faces Kate once again. "I've got serious jet-lag, so if you don't mind I'm going to head over to my own trailer. If you happen to run into Agents Mulder and Scully, please let me know," says Skinner attempting to walk around Kate who has stepped up quite close to him.

"Ah Kate? Is there a problem here?"

"No, I was just smelling your aftershave lotion. I love the scent. Well, anyway the reason I came to find you is to offer you a home cooked meal," Kate smiles warmly.

"Ah, thank you," says Skinner. "But, I think am going to hit the sack early tonight. I can't stand long flights." He closes the door to the agent's trailer and then picks up his suitcase. He starts to walk to his own trailer

"You enjoy your stay with us," says Kate waving. She walks back to her office where Howie is waiting for her.

"He is out of your league Kate," says Howie sipping out of a can of soda.

"What do you mean?" asks Kate innocently.

"You know what I mean. You see a professional, well dressed man and you are hot after him within five minutes of seeing him. You probably noticed her isn't wearing a wedding ring. Well, that can mean a lot of things."

Kate smiles and pats Howie on the shoulder. "You are imagining things again Howie. No one would want a middle-aged country bumpkin like me." She walks into the backroom. After a few minutes Howie gets up and looks out the window to see Skinner crawling on top of his trailer attempting to fix the tv antenna.

Howie laughs to himself. 'Could a city-slicker like this Walter Skinner make Kate truly happy.' he thinks to himself. He vows to try figure out if it will truly have an effect on Kate. He decides to play matchmaker himself.

(An hour earlier)

Mulder and Scully have finally succumbed to their passion and are now lying in bed. The silence is deafening as they each contemplate what they can now say to each other. They have always been close, but now they have participated in the most intimate act possible. Scully finally leans on her elbow and looks down at Mulder who is lying on his back staring at the ceiling. "Mulder, whats wrong?" asks Scully caressing his cheek.

"I can't believe after seven years we did it," says Mulder amazed. "This changes everything Scully. We can't ever go back to the way we were."

"And that's a bad thing?" asks Scully dropping her eyes.

"No. No. I didn't mean that," says Mulder. "Its just I always fantasized about us, but I didn't think you cared about me in that way. I just thought it was a perverted little hang-up I had. You know, FBI agent lusting after his hot little hot red-headed partner."

"Mulder, when Daniel suddenly appeared in my life I did a lot of soul searching. He made me realize that all things happen for a reason. There was a reason why I left medicine and joined the FBI. It was fate that made me run into you in that hallway at Quantico as it was fate that we would be partnered together. Of all of the field offices in the country, out of all of the other possible agents available - they paired me with you. I know that their motives were not good, but it still happened and over the last seven years you have become one of the most important factors in my life. Daniel tried to recreate what we had, but I knew I wasn't the same person anymore. I had you in my life and I couldn't imagine it any other way. When I am away from you I think about you and can't wait until I see you again. I feel like you are my other half and I suppose that in a way I always have viewed you as the nearest to my significant other that I have. I don't want to make you uncomfortable Mulder, I've been dealing with a lot of pent up feelings lately, but I just want to get it off my chest. Today may have not meant much to you. Maybe it was just a substitution for one of your videos, but for me it was a milestone in my own personal journey." She sighs as she finally says what she never thought she would say to him, "What I am trying to say Mulder is that I love you."

Mulder has been staring at Scully with disbelief during her rendition. He is surprised at her opening up to him. He gives a little shake to his head and says, "But I love you too Scully."

"I know you love me Mulder as a friend, but what I am trying to say is that I am IN LOVE with you," says Scully coloring.

Mulder's eyes drop and then he gives a small smile. He then looks up again and looks her in the eye. "Scully, you've got it all wrong. I don't view you as a substitute for something else. I love you as friend, but I am in love with you as only a man can love a woman."

A tear runs down Scully's cheek and Mulder leans up to kiss it away.

Just then they hear voices in the parking lot. Mulder sits up and wraps a sheet around himself and walks to the window. His eyes widen and then he spins around to Scully who has sat up in bed.

"Skinner is here," says Mulder with a panicked look on his face. "We've got to get dressed and out of here now!"

The two agents make a mad dash to get dressed. Mulder has just finished up tying one of his hiking boots when they hear the door of their trailer open. He grabs Scully's hand and pulls her over to the window. He opens it and helps Scully climb out. He holds her by the arms as she drops to the ground.

At this point he hears Skinner approach the door of the bedroom. Mulder moves to climb out the window, but bangs his head on the window. He hears Skinner say, "Agents Mulder and Scully are you in there?" He finally gets through the window and drops to the ground. As his feet touch the ground he hears the door of the bedroom being kicked in.

Mulder and Scully look at each other and then run for the woods.

"He is going to know Mulder," says Scully as the two of them observe Skinner exit the trailer and talk to Kate. "Whats that in his hand?" She squints and struggles to see.

"You don't want to know," says Mulder.

"Why? What is it?" asks Scully looking up at him.

"Lets just say its the same color as that silky thing that I had fun taking off of you a while back," replies Mulder keeping his eyes on Skinner.

Scully blushes and then says, "Oh My God Mulder. What are we going to do? Why did he have to come out here? We aren't even on official business and you've paid for all of our expenses. I hate to say this because I admire Skinner, but its none of his business why we are here. We're on leave and if we chose to jet off to California to search for Bigfoot that is obviously our decision. "

"Scully, I have something to tell you," says Mulder softly.

"What? Oh no. You have that 'I'm haven't told you everything Scully' look on your face Mulder. Mulder, what aren't you telling me?" asks Scully.

"Well some, not all of our expenses may have somehow gotten on my bureau credit card," says Mulder sheepishly.

"Mulder, exactly how much of our expenses went on the card?" asks Scully.

"Well, obviously all of Kate's expenses were paid in cash," says Mulder. "But the flight may have accidentally gotten on the card."

"Mulder! You said that you paid for this yourself," Scully says shaking her head.

"I never said I wasn't going to pay for it Scully. I was just letting the bureau kinda foot the bill for a while until I could repay them."

"Oh Mulder. What am I going to do with you?" smiles Scully.

"I could think of a few good things," says Mulder moving in to nuzzle her neck.

"Mulder, look," says Scully. "What is Skinner doing now?"

Mulder looks up to see Skinner being "detained" by Kate. "I think Kate is making the moves on the Skinman," says Mulder. "Now he is walking to his trailer. Kate is going back to the office. I say we get out of here before Skinner comes this way. We've only got a couple of hours of daylight to get to the campsite again."

"We're going back there now?, Scully asks looking amazed. "

"Whats our options? Should we just go up to Skinner's trailer and say 'Sir, we know that you found our clothes all over the floor in the trailer. We're just a messy pair and you know that negligee that you found? that's Agent Mulder's, he is a little shy about his cross dressing habits."

Scully tries hard not to laugh. "Mulder! I don't want to confront Skinner now."

"Wait, here he comes again," says Mulder as he watches Skinner climb onto the roof of his trailer. "He is fixing his antenna. Looks like maybe the tv may not be getting the reception he would like."

"Come on Mulder," says Scully pulling his arm. "I don't want another night of being stranded in the forest. I just want to get back to our little campsite."

"Okay," says Mulder as he allows himself to be drawn away from Skinner and the two agents start on the trail back to Campsite #42.

The agents have arrived back at their campsite without incident. "Mulder, do you really think it was wise running out on Skinner like that," asks Scully. "When he catches up to us he is going to be even more angry. He knows whats gone on between us. He is not blind. I mean he found my nightgown and all our clothes around." Scully doesn't want to admit all of her fears to Mulder, but her strength is wavering. Her eyes tear up as he looks at her.

"He won't split us up Scully. I won't let him," says Mulder. "We'll think of something. We always do."

"Mulder, he is going to find us. Kate will end up telling him where we are camped and then he'll be right out here confronting us. Why didn't I let you rent another tent for me? This is going to look horrible when he arrives. We're staying in the same tent, we've crossed to the other side, we've gone against the bureau's policies, we've become involved.. sexually involved."

"We love each other," says Mulder approaching her and pulling her face up to look at him. "Never feel guilty Scully about what you feel. If others don't understand how two people that work together could fall in love with each other after seven years then its them that has a problem. Not us."

Scully nods as Mulder pulls her to him and gives her a huge hug. "I just thought of a way that maybe we could temporarily detain Skinner," says Mulder giving Scully a mischievous look and leaning down to give her a light kiss on the lips.

"How?" asks Scully suspiciously.

Mulder enters the tent and a minute later he comes out with a tube of toothpaste. He approaches the tree with the #42 sign on it. He puts the tube of toothpaste in his mouth and starts climbing the tree."

"Mulder, what are you doing?" asks Scully standing under the tree and looking up.

"I'm covering up the evidence," says Mulder as he reaches the sign. Holding onto the tree with one arm he gets the toothpaste open and squeezes some onto the sign. "Okay Scully, what campsite do you want? Do you want #4 or #2."

Scully laughs and then says, "Only you Mulder would think of something like this. Ah, lets stay at number #4." Mulder smears the toothpaste over the #2 and then tosses the toothpaste to the ground.

"You know Mulder you once asked me if watching you climb trees turned me on. This is the second time on this trip you've been up a tree and I must say I find it kind of intriguing, or maybe even arousing." Mulder chuckles as he begins to climb down the tree. Just then he hears a roar and turns his head to see Bigfoot running through the forest. His first thought is of Scully.

"Scully, the Sasquatch is coming!" He slides down the tree scraping his hands and knees and jumps to the ground. He runs to the tent and grabs his gun. He emerges from the tent and looks around. Scully is no where to be seen. "Scully! Scully! Damn it Scully, speak to me!"

"Mulder!," screams Scully from somewhere. Mulder turns his head in all directions before he realizes that Bigfoot has carried off Scully. He sees trees moving in a westerly direction and he is in hot pursuit immediately.

He hears her scream again and finally he is able to catch sight of them. Bigfoot has Scully thrown over its shoulder and is about to enter the river.

Mulder raises his gun, but the shot wasn't a clear aim. He didn't want to risk hitting Scully. Bigfoot has now entered the river and is swimming to the other side. Mulder places the handle of his gun in his mouth and dives into the river. The river is wider than it looks and he can't believe how fast the Bigfoot is. Mulder is rapidly running out of strength. Years ago he used to swim laps daily, but since his life had become so complicated he just jogged.

Bigfoot has now reached the other side of the river and turns to see Mulder who is still about twenty yards from the riverbank. By the time Mulder reaches the shore Bigfoot is no where to be seen. Mulder is frantic at this point. He sees nothing and despite his excellent hearing, there is nothing to listen for. "Scully! Scully!," he desperately screams. There is no scream of 'Mulder' this time. The forest is endless and silent.

Mulder sits down on a boulder, bringing his knees to his chest he puts his head in his hands and cries.

Skinner has fixed his antenna finally and is inside his trailer relaxing when there is a knock at the door. He gets up and answers the door and is surprised to see Kate standing there. "Is there something I can do for you," frowns Skinner.

"Howie said that you were having some problems with your antenna and I just wanted to make sure that you are getting good reception," says Kate trying not to stare at Skinner who has forgotten himself and is standing in the open doorway in his boxers and t-shirt. He sees Kate's eyes following downward and he then realizes his state of dress or undress.

"I apologize for my appearance," says Skinner embarrassed. I thought it was one of my agents coming to talk to me. "But as I can predict I don't think they will be coming to see me anytime soon."

"that's okay," says Kate. "You look just fine. Is your antenna still messed up or is there anything else I can do for you?"

Skinner stares at Kate and finally really takes in her appearance. She is of average height with long brown hair that is up in a ponytail. Her figure is pleasing to look at. He shakes his head as he realizes that he is checking this woman out and he hopes she doesn't realize what a pathetic person he is. Anyone looking at him would think he was as sick as his top agent was.

Kate smiles at him and then says, "Are you hungry? I still have some of the pot roast that I made for dinner. What do you say?"

Skinner thinks for a moment. 'Ah what the hell? If the agents don't want to be found I'm not going to be able to do anything anyway. I may as well let my hair down. Well, its just a saying.' He runs a hand over his bald head and looks at his feet. Finally he looks up to see Kate's hopeful face. "Sure, that would be just great. Let me just throw on some clothes. Where do you want me?" He stops and flushes slightly. "I mean where should I meet you."

Kate smiles broadly and points to the trailer nearest to the office. "that's my place. Why don't you come over in about half an hour."

"Okay, its a date," says Skinner. "Well, you know what I mean." He quickly shuts the door and contemplates what he is going to wear.

Kate turns away from the door and walks across to her own trailer. There is obviously a slight skip to her step as she approaches the door and goes in.

From the office Howie observes the exchange and the happiness that Kate has experienced as she enters her trailer. He nods to himself and smiles before turning away.

Scully wakes up in a dark cave and she feels like she has been drugged. Buts that's impossible. A drug would require a human being's intelligence and access. The only other human here in the forest was Mulder and she had been viciously separated from him. The last memory that she had was of being dragged across the river. She had helplessly watched Mulder frantically try to swim after them. But they had reached the bank first and then she had lost sight of him. She doesn't even know if he made it as everything had gone black soon after that. Scully's head feels like someone has taken a sledgehammer to it. She shifts her body as the hardness of the cave is starting to affect her body and then that's when she realizes something. Her arms and legs are bound and there is tape over her mouth 'that's impossible', thinks Scully to herself. Bigfoot doesn't know anything about tying up people. Just then she sees a beam of light moving toward her. A flashlight and footsteps. 'Thank God, its Mulder and he is all right. He is here to rescue me.', she thinks. "Mulder," she attempts to say. But it only comes out as a moan.

The light approaches her and the beam flashes in her face. Whoever it is kneels next to her and she is shocked to see the face of the Sasquatch staring back at her. He reaches behind his head and pulls on his neck. The next thing Scully sees almost causes her to pass out. The Sasquatch pulls a mask off his face and she sees a face that she has seen many times. The face of Bobby Lee Smith, convicted serial rapist and member of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted. He leers at her.

"Ya finally wake up my little chickadee," he asks. "You and I are going to have a lot of fun, but I'm going to let you suffer a little while. I've got to make sure that there boyfriend of yours doesn't interfere with our little rendezvous here. I'm going to go make his life or actually his death a living hell." He puts his mask back on. "You just sit there and look pretty. Bobby will be back before you know it." He caresses her cheek and then walks off leaving her in darkness.

Scully immediately starts working on her knots which are tied extremely tight. She doesn't know how she is going to get free, but she knows she has to. 'Mulder, she has to protect Mulder', she thinks to herself as she wiggles her arms up under her behind and finally in front of her. She sobs as she thinks , 'how many Donnie Pfasters are really out there.'

Its pitch black at this point and Mulder has not given up looking for Scully. He can't see a thing in front of him until the moon is revealed from behind a cloud. He gives a small sigh of relief that at least he can make out the trees in front of him. He listens carefully for any signs of life besides his own, but he hears nothing but the sound of crickets and an occasional hoot of an owl.

'What have I done?', he thinks to himself. 'Once again Scully is in danger because of me. If I hadn't insisted on coming out here she would be safe. that's a real nice way of showing someone that you love them, bring them into a life threatening situation and that's exactly what he has done for the past seven years. However, there were always those few times that he had protected her. He would leave an e-mail, note or message on her answering machine telling her that he didn't want to risk her life for a hollow, personal cause of his. It never worked though. They thought too much alike. She always found him and most of the time ended up rescuing him. He swore that he would always find her too, but just recently when she had gone off with CSM he couldn't. He had felt powerless and it had scared him. That things had gone too far with his quest when she was willing to take chances like that. But that was in the past and this was the present. He had to find her before something happened.

Keeping his gun raised in front of him he cautiously advances into the forest. A warning light goes off in his head when he hears a twig breaking off to his right. He turns and listens to the sounds that indicate that someone or something is approaching. that's when he sees a movement behind a tree. He aims his gun there, but is surprised to see ironically a fox trot from behind the tree and into the forest. He lowers his gun and takes a deep breath. Letting his guard down he is rushed by something behind him and the next thing he knows he has been struck in the head with an object. He falls to the ground. His last thought is of Scully as the blackness sets in.

Bobby Lee Smith still dressed as the Sasquatch stands over Mulder. He is still holding the rock that he used in his hand. He tosses it away and then reaches down to throw Mulder over his shoulder. He picks up Mulder's gun and then starts toward the cave.

Scully meanwhile has gotten only her hands free when she hears a noise outside the cave. She quickly sticks her hands behind her back, thus hiding the evidence of her successful attempt at escape. She thinks to herself how she wishes that there had been more time. She would have only needed about ten more minutes and her feet would have been free. She had discovered a small needle prick in her arm during her battle to untie herself. Apparently Smith had given her an injection during her abduction.

She sees a flashlight beam enter the cave and she squeezes herself as close to the cave wall as she can. She cowers in fear as she is scared what his return means has happened and what will happen if she doesn't take some action. She hears his heavy footsteps approach her and she cringes with disgust when she remembers reading his profile from the file that had been circulated throughout the bureau over the past three months.

Scully expects the worst as Smith's footsteps stop next to her. She is startled when a body is thrown down beside her. She hears a low moan as the person rolls toward her and then stops. Smith flashes his flashlight into Scully's eyes. She squints at the sudden introduction of light and glances down to see Mulder unconscious beside her with a large nasty wound on the side of his head. Smith pulls the tape off of Scully's mouth and her mouth drops open to stare at most important person in her life at her side.

"What have you done to him you s.. of a b..ch"she screams. "If he dies, I swear I will hunt you down." She tears up and bites her lip. She wants to help Mulder, but she can't let Smith know her hands are free. Smith laughs and then pulls his mask off once again.

"Your boyfriend isn't dead yet little lady. I just thought it would be a little more entertaining if we had an audience, that's all," he continues.

Scully makes a face of revulsion. "You are a sick man Smith. You aren't going to get away with this. You've got this all wrong. We aren't some couple out here on a romantic getaway, we're two FBI agents and you are going to get your a** kicked if you think you are going to rape me."

"What are you going to do about it," grins Smith. You going to attack me? Use your self defense moves that you know from the bureau on me? I think that's going to be a little difficult right now, don't you? Besides, thanks to your partner I picked up a piece of artillery that I think will come in handy in the future." He holds up Mulder's gun. Scully closes her eyes in defeat.

"I can understand how you are using that reverse psychology crap on me seeing you belong to the FBI and all, but I'm not stupid. I've been watching you two since you first arrived in Bluff Creek and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that you two are partners on cases. Not only on criminal cases but pillow cases too." He laughs. "I'm going to be a nice guy. I'm going to leave you until tomorrow. I'll let you spend a little time together seeing when I get back I think I'll just use this on your lover there and there won't be any more competition for your affections." He waves the gun around as he backs out of the cave.

Scully can't see anything, but she immediately turns to Mulder and puts her arm under his back and pulls the top half of his body into her lap. "Mulder, Mulder. You have to wake up. We've got to get out of here." She takes his pulse and is relieved to find that his pulse is still strong. She feels the wound and it looks promising as the blood has stopped. It looks like its only a flesh wound, but without an x-ray she can't be sure that he doesn't have a concussion.

Time ticks by and Scully has no idea how many hours have passed. She has always prided herself on staying calm, but this is just too much for her. Her eyes tear up as she gently rocks Mulder in her arms. She doesn't know what she will do when Smith returns. She has no weapon and couldn't aim it accurately in the pitch black of the cave anyway. The tears are hard to hold in and several are pouring down her cheeks when one falls onto Mulder's forehead. His head moves side to side and groaning he opens his eyes.

"Mulder!," says Scully sniffling. "Don't move too much. You've had a massive head trauma." She leans down and gives him a peck on the cheek. "You've got to help me Mulder, you have to think of how I can defeat Smith without any weapon. Mulder, he is coming back to kill you and after he does he is going to... he is going to..."

"Rape you," cringes Mulder trying to sit up. "I will not let that happen Scully"

"Mulder, I told you not to move. She pushes him back down. I have to move you off of me, because I need to undo the knots on my ankles." She gently pushes him off of her and then goes to work on the ropes. Twenty minutes later she pushes them off and flexes her ankles.

"Think Mulder, what does the bureau teach us in situations like this? We have no weapons. He has your gun. Oh, why didn't you wear your extra gun strapped to your ankle today?"

"It's kinda hard Scully when you're wearing shorts," says Mulder trying to sit up, but he can't stand the pain and lies down again. "Besides, how should I know that I was going to need another gun against Sasquatch or obviously Smith."

"Mulder, Smith is the Sasquatch. I'm sorry to tell you."

"You're kidding me. He's been living out here since that tape was made. Talk about living off of the land."

"Mulder, its not funny. What should I do? Give me a plan. I don't know how much time we've got left before he comes back."

"Scully, I just remembered something," says Mulder. "I've got that camping knife in my left pocket. The one I cleaned the fish with. If you have that maybe you could stab him as he comes into the cave. Even if you wound him it will take some strength away from him. Then maybe I could step in and finish him off." Mulder takes a deep breath.

Scully reaches over and digs in his pocket for the knife.

"Hey there Scully, watch where you put that hand," jokes Mulder.

"Very funny," says Scully pulling the knife out and opening it. "Why didn't you remember you had this when I was trying to untie myself?"

"It slipped my mind at the moment," groans Mulder.

Scully gets to her knees and then says, "I'm going to sit over by the opening and wait until he comes back. I'll try the plan and see what happens."

"Just make a run for it Scully," says Mulder. "You can get away."

"I'm not leaving you Mulder. That is not an option, so don't even discuss it." She leans over and gives him a gentle kiss on the lips. "Try to stay awake. If you have a concussion you shouldn't go to sleep." She crawls away gripping the knife. She bumps into a couple of boulders and walls until she finds the opening to the cave. She sits to the side and tucks her knees to her chest . She fingers the knife in her hand.

"Talk to me Mulder. Are you doing okay."

"Yeah, under the circumstances things are going great," says Mulder softly.

"Mulder, what do think Skinner is doing right now?" asks Scully.

"Frankly Scully I don't give a damn."

"Mulder, that was uncalled for. Mulder?"

"I can't stay awake Scully. I think you should sing a song," says Mulder.

"No Mulder. I'm not going to sing," says Scully.

"It's your turn. Its only fair," says Mulder.

Scully sighs and rolls her eyes. "Jeremiah was a bullfrog........."

Kate has just finished lighting some candles when she hears a soft knock on her door. She quickly pulls off her apron and tossing it to the side. She then pats her hair as she opens the door. Skinner is standing there dressed in jeans and a FBI logo t-shirt.

Kate smiles at Skinner. "Hi, dinner will be ready in just a couple of minutes. Come on in."

Skinner enters the trailer apprehensively and sees the dinner table set with the candles. "You didn't have to go to any trouble," says Skinner as Kate enters the kitchen. "What happened to left overs?"

"It is left overs," says Kate. "I just whipped up a quick casserole. that's all." Kate comes walking out of the kitchen carrying a steaming dish with potholders. "Sit down before it gets cold."

Skinner takes a seat and Kate serves him. He takes a bite of the food and gives a huge sigh. "Kate, this is delicious. You aren't a trained chef in disguise are you?"

"No, but actually I had considered going to culinary school when I was in high school," says Kate as she takes her first bite of food.

"What happened?" asks Skinner taking a sip of red wine.

"Bobby is what happened," says Kate. "I fell in love with a local boy that I thought was my answer to all of my dreams. Problem was he was nothing but a nightmare."

"What do you mean," asks Skinner continuing to dine on his dinner.

"He was possessive,jealous and frightening. I had married a monster and I was lucky to finally convince him to give me a divorce. I made a mistake Mr. Skinner and unfortunately it cost me the best years of my life."

"You've got many good years left Kate. Please call me Walter. By the way I didn't catch your last name."

"Its Smith," replies Kate as she gets up and takes Skinner's empty dish. "Would you like some apple pie?"

"Did you bake it?" asks Skinner.

"Peeled the apples myself," says Kate smiling.

"In that case, yes I will have a large piece of that pie," winks Skinner.

Kate goes back into the kitchen and returns with pie for the two of them. Skinner also accepts the coffee that she has offered him.

Kate takes a seat across from Skinner and turns the discussion to him. "So, how long have you been involved with the bureau?"

"Its going on twenty-five years now. I joined the academy fresh out of Nam and I worked my way up. I'm an Assistant Director and have about fifty agents assigned directly under me."

"It must be really interesting work. You must see all kinds of things. I still can't believe that our government is willing to investigate Bigfoot though," says Kate raising her cup of coffee to her lips.

"Well, actually the FBI as a whole does not investigate these kind of things. Agents Mulder and Scully are assigned to a special unit called the X-Files."

"Agent Mulder mentioned that they investigate cases that haven't been able to be solved due to unexplained phenomena. Does that mean like ghosts and monsters and stuff?"

"Well Agent Mulder's theories usually revolve around the paranormal although as of this date I don't think any of his cases have ever been proven to be completely explained. Actually that's partly the reason for my visit. The agents have been spending way too much government money on their investigation. Unfortunately I am working against the Director at the moment. He wants to have them audited and see where all of this money has gone. They've been all over the world and to every state at least twice during the seven years of their partnership. They are the best agents I have. I admire them, no I love them like my own children. I don't want to see them harmed professionally or personally, but in my position its hard to keep protecting them."

"They must have a lot of frequent flier miles," says Kate. "Do you agree with any of Agent Mulder's theories?"

"Well, I will have to say that I have seen some strange things. More recently I saw Agent Mulder almost die from an infestation of tobacco beetle larvae in his lungs. It was pretty disgusting." He notices the odd look on Kate's face. "Oh, I'm sorry. that's not something I should have said over dinner. I apologize. I'm not used to talking with women that's all. The only two women I talk to are my secretary who knows what I deal with every day. Its her job and Agent Scully who is a pathologist and can handle anything I dish out to her. I guess I am in need of practice."

"Well I'm here and willing to listen," says Kate. "Would you like to discuss it over a game of checkers?"

"That would be great," says Skinner as Kate leads him over to a couch.

Scully continues to sit next to the opening of the cave. She has just finished singing Zip a-Dee Doo-Dah, a request from Mulder when she hears a noise. She takes a deep breath as she hears footsteps approaching the cave. She feels a slight breeze as Smith walks by her. He stops to turn his flashlight on which he shines straight ahead. Scully leans over and grabs him by the ankle tripping him. He falls to the ground with a grunt. He loses his flashlight and it rolls to sit several feet from them. Scully immediately jumps on his back and holds the knife to his neck. She silently wishes for the handcuffs that are in her suitcase back at the trailer. She notices Mulder's gun is still in Smith's left hand. She reaches for it to disarm him, but he is quick and before she knows it he has grabbed her around the neck and thrown her to the ground. He pins her to the ground and tosses her knife away.

"So you got yourself untied my sweetness? You don't want to hurt Bobby with that there knife, because if you did I would have to hurt you really bad and I don't want to do that. I just want us to be real good friends if you know what I mean." He brushes back a strand of her hair and smile down at her. "Now I don't want to have to use this gun on you, but you better be real nice to Bobby or I'm going to have to shoot your boyfriend, if he is still alive." He leans down and kisses Scully on the mouth.

Scully thinks she is going to be sick as she attempts to knee Smith in the groin, but its not working as he has her firmly pinned to the ground. Her struggles are turning him on as he grinds his body against hers. A panicked noise comes from her throat as he kisses her again. She bites his lip hard and he jerks away. "Why you little *itch," he says as he slaps her across the face. Scully cries out as she is struck.

Just then she hears a noise and the next thing she knows is Smith has been ripped away from her. She hears sounds of a fight and then a shot rings out in the night. She screams as she feels the weight of a body on hers again. She punches out with her fists against the chest that presses down on her.

"Scully, its me," says Mulder softly as he catches her hands in his. Tears are running down her eyes. She can't see Mulder in the pitch black, but she grabs onto him in desperation. She pulls him to her and cries uncontrollably into his neck. He holds onto her and thanks God for allowing him the ability to get to her in time again.

Scully continues to cry for several minutes before her hold on Mulder loosens. "Is he dead," she asks him.

"I don't know. I punched him and we wrestled for the gun. It went off and all I know is I'm not the one that got shot." Mulder helps Scully to her feet and reaches down to pick up Smith's flashlight . He illuminates the space surrounding them and Mulder is not surprised to see no sign of Smith or Mulder's gun.

"He is gone," says Scully flatly.

"He may be gone, but he did get hit," says Mulder pointing to a small pool of blood on the floor of the cave followed by a trail. He takes Scully by the hand and follows the trail to the entrance of the cave. They exit out into the cool fresh air of the night. The moonlight is refreshing to their eyes. Mulder fights a sudden wave of dizziness as he bends over in pain. Scully grabs him by the upper arm.

"Mulder, sit down and give me the flashlight. I need to check that wound." Mulder hands her the flashlight and sits down. He cringes as she gently runs her fingers over the wound. "You don't have a concussion. I can tell, but you are going to need a lot of rest."

"I won't be getting any rest until we at least reach our campsite," says Mulder slowly rising to his feet. "there's no telling where Smith may be and I'd feel safer if we could at least have your gun."

"We can't get there tonight Mulder, we crossed the river and we can't chance that in the dark," says Scully looking up at him. Mulder takes the flashlight from her.

"We'll have to walk down river a bit to find a narrower part. The best thing for us is to cross tonight Scully. We are defenseless out here in the open and I would rather take my chances swimming the river than taking the chance that Smith would try to harm you again. He reaches over and caresses her cheek. "It nearly killed me to hear that sonva *itch forcing himself on you. If I had a clear shot I would have sent a bullet right through his heart."

"And the bureau would have had you dismissed and I would be visiting you in jail for thirty years to life," says Scully.

"At least you could say that I had stopped running. I wouldn't be able to do many laps in a jail cell," says Mulder jokingly. "Seriously though Scully nothing would stop me from seeking vengeance on your behalf, even if it led to me going to jail. You have been there for me since the beginning and I know you'll be there with me until the end, whatever that means I don't know. All I know is that I love you."

Scully smiles. "I don't know if I ever told you, but when you were in Tunguska, Russia I refused to tell anyone where you were. I was called to testify before a Senatorial hearing and I refused to answer that question. They put me in confinement because they thought it would break me down. It didn't and seeing you walking into that room made it worth every minute I spent in that cell."

Mulder nods and then smiles at her. He leans down and gives her a gentle and passionate kiss that Scully returns with eagerness. Both agents think to themselves how they thought they would never see each other again.

They finally break away from the kiss with breathlessness. "Come on Scully, we've got to find that alternate crossing before we run into Smith again." He puts one arm around Scully's shoulders and she puts her arm around his waist as they walk along the river bank.

About an hour later Mulder and Scully discover a point of the river where they can cross by stepping on rocks. Mulder extends his hand to Scully and they start to cross. Three quarters across Scully's foot slips on one of the slimy rocks and she falls. Mulder helps her to her feet. "Are you all right?"

"Mulder, I'm fine. My a** broke my fall." She smiles at him and motions that they should continue. Once across they stand on the riverbank a moment to get their bearings.

"Which way Scully?" asks Mulder looking in both directions.

"You're the Indian guide. You tell me," says pulling on her wet clothes.

"Something tells me to go right," says Mulder turning in that direction.

"I think its left," says Scully.

"I thought you trusted me," says Mulder.

"I do but the river is flowing downstream Mulder and look," she points to an object on the bank. Its the fish pole she had lost the other day. "That could have come from only one direction. So lets go." She turns to the left and starts walking.

"You must think you are pretty smart," says Mulder catching up to her.

"I just look for the logical explanation of things," says Scully. "If the fish pole hadn't been there I wouldn't have been sure what direction to go in Mulder. We got lucky I guess."

"So you are saying it was fate, a random moment in time that allowed that fish pole to land where it did. That would mean that some force, some supernatural or paranormal force caused this to happen in order that we would find it and become aware of where we were?" asks Mulder.

"Like I said Mulder, we got lucky," says Scully giving him a look. Mulder silently laughs to himself and is glad that their new relationship isn't changing Scully's rational way of looking at unexplained phenomena. Although the few surprises that she had come up with on this trip had been very well received by him."

Half an hour later they arrive at their campsite and are surprised to see a campfire glowing. They approach cautiously and stop about ten yards to observe. Scully and Mulder turn to look at each other at the same time. Scully's mouth hangs open and Mulder wears an amused expression. They walk toward the campfire and the two people sitting on a log toasting marshmallows.

"Sir?" asks Scully. "What are you doing here?" asks Scully looking at Skinner and Kate who are bundled up next to each other.

Skinner jumps to his feet, his marshmallow falling into the fire. "Agents! Ah Ms. Smith here told me where your campsite was and she offered to guide me out here. We became concerned when we realized that you weren't here.

What the hell is going on here?"

"Nice to see you again Kate," says Mulder giving a little wave. Kate gives an embarrassed wave back and blushes. "Sir, we may have a bigger problem," says Mulder stepping nearer to Skinner.

"Mulder, you look like crap. What happened to you?" Mulder looks down at his scratched up arms and legs and realizes for the first time that his shirt is torn.

"I had an encounter with Bigfoot," replies Mulder.

"Not that BS again Mulder! that's why I am out here to collect you and Agent Scully. The bureau isn't going to pay for anymore of these little excursions that you two decide to take. From now on when you come across a potential case you are to write me a report and together we will present it to the committee."

"What!," exclaims Mulder. "that's horse manure! I am not going to be led around like a little kid being told what I can do and what I can't do."

"Mulder," says Scully reaching for his hand. "Lets talk this out rationally. This is not the place to be making career altering statements." She makes a motion to the forest in general. "I'm sure Assistant Director Skinner will discuss this with us in an open and rational manner once we get back to DC."

"I don't want to talk about in DC. I want to get it over now," yells Mulder looking from Scully to Skinner. "Was this your decision Sir? Were you the one to decide to finally put me in my place?"

"It came from the top Mulder. I had no choice. As your direct superior it was my responsibility, my job to inform you of their decision. You don't have any options. Your choice is either to conform to the bureau's rules or resign."

"Than I resign," yells Mulder pulling away from a shocked Scully and crawling into their tent.

Scully turns to look at Skinner. "Why now? Why after seven years of allowing us the freedom of investigating are you treating us like this? The X-Files have been taken away from us several times, but you always helped us in finding a way to continue Mulder's....our quest." Her blue eyes flash in distrust. "I don't believe you when you say that your hands were tied. You are an Assistant Director. You have some weight and if you aren't using it, its not because you can't, its because you won't. You won't risk your career or reputation in helping us anymore. I'm not going to speak about myself. I'm not looking for any glory and neither is Agent Mulder, but Agent Mulder has gone beyond the call of duty for you. He has risked his life on more than one occasion to save you and this is what you give him in return." Scully storms off and to Skinner's surprise she crawls into the tent that Mulder had gone into a moment before.

Skinner sighs and thinks to himself how the agents are wrong. They don't know the whole story regarding his loyalty to them. How he had been protecting them for seven years and now when they were closer to the truth than ever before it was necessary for him to cut ties. He didn't want to admit it, but the best thing for Agent Mulder would be to resign. It may just save his life in the end. Agent Scully too. That chip in her neck was a weapon against herself and if Mulder backed off everyone would be safer." He turns to Kate who is staring at him.

"I'm sorry you had to be a witness to that exchange," apologizes Skinner. "I had some bad news to give them and I should have known not to give them that news here. It wouldn't have made any difference, they are both hotheaded and stubborn. I shouldn't have expected their reaction to be any different in DC. Actually it could have been worse, if I had told them in DC they would have more things to throw at me. My stapler on my desk may have turned into a lethal weapon." He smiles at Kate.

"Its okay Walter. I understand what you are going through. Being someone's boss is a hard job. Some people can't handle taking orders and its not easy when one of your most admired employees strikes back at you."

"They have a right to be angry.," says Skinner. "Because they are right. I am a coward who can't stand up to those that hold the power. Kate I don't want to trouble you with all of this, but the American people are living a lie. There are high government officials that make decisions for our country.. for our planet that aren't always in the people's interest. I don't have all of the details, but one factor is this. That Agent Mulder lives for the pursuit of finding the truth of this lie and if he doesn't stop...if I don't stop him he is going to be killed. They have done everything to stop him. Killed his father, lied about the abduction of his sister and recently his mother died under suspicious circumstances."

"Oh my God," says Kate with wide eyes. "This sounds like a made for television movie."

"You know if we all survive this, that doesn't sound like a bad idea. I have a friend in Hollywood. Well, that's not important. Agent Scully has suffered for her partnership with Mulder. She was once used as a mole. She had been placed with him for a reason, but as the months and years have gone by her loyalty has shifted from the bureau to loyalty solely to Agent Mulder. She protects him and with good reason. He found the cure for her cancer that this group had given her. She was given that cancer to make him believe that something larger was going on here than alien life here on earth."

Kate continues to stare at him. "Aliens? And you are angry that those two are looking into Bigfoot on their free time? Walter, are you sure you haven't had a nervous breakdown? This all sounds so Sci-Fi. I'm wondering if I should walk away from all this. This is too weird for me."

"I like you Kate. Its been so enlightening having someone to talk to. Someone to listen to me and not judge me, but I'll have to admit that you are taking a risk by even being here with me. There are men after me too. Men that seek to control me. They've done it in the past and they will continue to do this in the future, until its all over and only God knows when that will be.

Kate gets up and tosses the blanket to the side. She reaches for his hand. "I've only known you a very short time Walter, but I can see the man that you are. I want to get to know you better, but only if you would like to." She squeezes his hand and smiles.

Skinner is surprised at the strength of this woman. He sees some qualities in her that reminds him of another. "You are amazing Kate. Are you sure you don't have any relatives named Scully in your family tree. Up until now I only knew one woman with backbone like that. What you said was so caring. Yes, I would really like to get to know you better." Skinner leans down and gives her a peck on the cheek.

Meanwhile in the tent Mulder has retreated into himself. Scully had gone into the tent with the intent of reassuring him about the future and she was shocked and saddened to find Mulder sitting cross legged with his back to her. In his right hand he holds her gun.

"Mulder, what are you doing with my gun?" she asks with a trembling voice.

"You know Scully, maybe Skinner is right. Maybe it is time to give up on this lifelong mission I have made for myself. Maybe everyone would be a lot happier if Spooky Mulder wasn't around anymore to interfere." He fingers the gun in his hand.

"Mulder, what are you trying to say," asks Scully getting very concerned.

"Maybe I should just end it. End it right here, right now," says Mulder turning but not looking her in the eye.

"Mulder, this is not you talking. You are confused and angry at Skinner. You aren't thinking rationally." Her eyes tear up as she tries to remember the key points of negotiating with a potential suicidal person. "You don't want to do this to yourself... or to me." She slowly reaches over and puts her hand over his on the gun. "We can work this out. We always do and this is not the way to deal with it." She is relieved when he allows her to take the gun away. She quickly takes the clip out and throws it out of the tent. It comes to rest against Skinner's foot who looks down and stares at it.

Scully crawls over behind Mulder and wraps her arms around him. She rests her head next to his. "Like I said we will work this out together. Don't resign, there is no going back then. Lets play by their rules and maybe we will learn more. I know that's not your usual style, but they haven't reassigned us. They've only made the X-Files more difficult to work with. They may think they know us, but we know ourselves...each other much better and this isn't going to stop us."

Mulder's eyes are teary as he turns and embraces Scully. He pulls her into his lap and kisses her once before she pulls away. "If you find that you can't go on with the arrangement we will deal with that once the time comes. I'm not going to sit back and let you suffer. It would be more difficult not being in the FBI while trying to investigate, but we could do it."

Mulder looks her in the eye. "You would still be in the bureau, you could help me. Be the spy they wanted you to be, but for me."

"I couldn't do that Mulder, listening to their comments on how they got rid of you. The day that you seriously decide to quit and put it in writing my resignation will be in the same envelope." She looks down and bites her lip. He tucks a lock of hair behind her ear.

"I won't give up yet Scully, I won't ruin your career." He releases his hold on her and gets up to crawl out of the tent. He finds Skinner embracing Kate who jumps away from him when she sees Mulder exiting the tent. Scully follows close behind.

"Sir, I've reconsidered," says Mulder glancing at Scully. "Agent Scully has talked some sense into me and I'm not going to quit. I've worked too hard over the past ten years and I'm not going to make everyone happy by leaving."

"I'm glad to hear that Agent Mulder," says Skinner. "I'm going to regret asking you this, but what happened with Bigfoot?"

"Well my opinion was Bigfoot was real, and Agent Scully actually agreed with me. Yes, that is the truly amazing part." He smiles over at Scully who smiles back. "That was until Bigfoot kidnapped Scully and held her hostage in a cave. Seeking an unfounded jealous resentment he came after me next and knocked me out. The next thing I knew I woke up and found Scully tied up next to me. Between the two of us we thought out a plan and when the so called Bigfoot came back. We had it well covered so we thought, but things turned around and Scully was almost ....raped."

"By Bigfoot," exclaims Skinner.

"No, by Bobby Lee Smith, serial rapist and one of the FBI's Most Wanted," say Scully speaking up. "Mulder interceded and during the struggle Smith was apparently shot. There wasn't any trace of him, but he is still alive and wounded somewhere out there." She glances around her, noticing the sunset on the horizon for the first time.

Just then Kate gives out a loud scream. Skinner turns to her wrapping an arm around her. "Kate whats wrong?"

"Bobby! He's here?" she cries.

"You know Bobby?" asks Scully amazed.

"Of course she does," says Mulder calmly. "Kate Smith, Bobby Lee Smith. You're related in some way aren't you?"

Skinner looks to Kate for a confirmation. She nods. "He is my ex-husband," she mumbles as she squeezes her eyes shut.

Mulder, Scully and Skinner stare at her their eyes full of questions.

"Your ex-husband is a serial rapist?" asks Skinner slightly angry. "You mentioned that he was a nightmare, but you never mentioned that he was a wanted fugitive. You didn't know that he was around here did you? Otherwise I'm going to have to take you in for abetting a fugitive."

"No," cries Kate. "I haven't seen him in over three years. I thought he was either dead or in jail. I had no idea that he was even on the Most Wanted List."

"I believe her," says Mulder. "She didn't know anything about it. Sir, give her some slack."

"It appears that Smith has resurfaced and Kate is clearly frightened," says Scully approaching Kate and putting an arm around her. "He was an abusive husband, wasn't he?"

Kate nods. "He beat me up for everything that went wrong in his life. I only thank God that we didn't have any children. He would have abused them too and I don't know how I would ever deal with that."

"Some things are for the best," agrees Scully.

"Well, you are the senior agent," says Mulder to Skinner. "What do you want us to do? I don't know if I mentioned it before, but Smith is armed. He stole my gun when he attacked me."

"Great," says Skinner. "He is armed and could be anywhere. He could be fifty miles from here or he could be standing behind that tree over there. We can't do this alone agents. We definitely need backup. I think the best thing for us to do is for you to pack up your belongings and head back to the trailer park. We'll call the local PD and get some reinforcements. In he mean time Kate do you have a map of the local area?" Kate nods as she brushes the tears from her eyes. "I'm going to grid the area and assign sections. I also want to have a medic look at you and Scully. You've been through a lot and I don't like the look of that cut on your head Mulder."

"Scully already looked at it and said I was fine," says Mulder.

"I don't think you have a concussion, but I think it would be best if you got x-rayed," says Scully touching his arm. Mulder reluctantly agrees.

"You two aren't to be involved at all in this sting. You are still officially on leave and I'm going to stick to the ruling. After you get back to the park and get checked out I want you on the first plane to DC. You'll have to survive the rest of your "vacation" at home. Lets see that leaves you nine more days. Allright, Kate and I will go and wait for you in her jeep," says Skinner. "Pack up your gear and throw it in the back. He walks off leaving Kate behind. She follows still rubbing her eyes.

"What the hell is going on Scully? This all started as a little distraction from our mundane lives and now here we are getting sent home like little kids that have behaved badly on a field trip. I wasn't done researching these sightings and we've got nine more days. What are we going to do for nine days? Especially now as we don't have any freedom to pursue lead on our own."

"Mulder, lets just take one step at a time," says Scully. "First thing is first. We need to pack up our gear and get in the jeep. Skinner is already giving us an annoyed look because we are just standing here." She walks over to the tent and drags the two sleeping bags out. She gets down on the ground and starts to roll one up. "You know Mulder, despite being chased down by a bear, nearly getting drowned and being kidnapped by a serial rapist I really enjoyed this trip."

Mulder kneels and starts to roll up the other sleeping bag. "I had fun too Scully. It was really great to see you lighten up a little bit and let loose. We'll have to do something like this again. I mean camping, not looking for Bigfoot."

"A non-X-File related trip?" asks Scully amazed. "Is that possible?"

"Of course its possible," says Mulder. "And I have a really cool idea that I think you are going to love. You know its a long trip back to DC and who says we have to take a direct flight. What if we had a couple of layovers and just maybe we just happened to decide to take in a couple of sights and we missed our plane? We do have nine days until we have to report to the office."

"Mulder, you heard what Skinner said," says Scully staring at him as she ties up the sleeping bag. Mulder has crawled inside the tent and is tossing stuff out into the dirt. Finally he comes out and the two agents stand together as they start to take apart the tent. Scully starts to reprimand him again. "We can't just get lost, that's going to look bad Mulder."

"Come on Scully. Live for the moment. Skinner obviously is," says Mulder tossing the pieces of the tent in its bag and tying it closed.

Scully rolls her eyes and turns to see Skinner holding Kate's hands in his own. "I didn't think he had it in him," she says.

"Well Kate is obviously a very happy woman," says Mulder.

"You don't think they.. they, you know," asks Scully blushing.

"What? Did the wild thing?" asks an amused Mulder. "I don't know. You never can tell with people. Take us for instance. Skinner didn't say anything to us at all, so you can assume he is clueless about our little encounter."

"He found my nightgown though," says Scully.

"that's pointless," says Mulder. "He didn't walk in on us. So, what's one of our mottoes?" Mulder points at Scully with a silly look on his face.

"Deny everything," smiles Scully.


"Trust no one," continues Scully.

"Exactly," says Mulder glancing over at Skinner whispering in Kate's ear. Mulder smiles and then grabs Scully giving her a deep kiss and then quickly releasing her. He grabs the tent and one of the sleeping bags and starts walking to the jeep. "Come on Scully get those little legs moving. We've got to load up the jeep before the windows get too steamed up."

Scully laughs out loud as she picks up the other sleeping bag and her backpack. She follows Mulder to the jeep where Skinner and Kate hold looks of Cheshire cats.

An hour and a half later the agents have been checked out by the medics and are packing up their belongings from the trailer. "Mulder, we can't leave all this garbage for Kate to pick up," says Scully pulling a trash bag out of a drawer. She starts to toss iced tea bottles into it. "Go ask Kate for a vacuum and pick up all of these shells off the floor. For the amount of time we spent in this trailer I don't understand where you found the time to eat all of those and make such a mess!"

"I can't help it Scully, they're a staple food of my diet," replies Mulder standing with his hands in his pockets.

"Just go and get the vacuum," says Scully. "And here, take this with you." She throws the bag of garbage at him as he exits the door. Scully goes into the bathroom and tosses her makeup into its bag and gathers up Mulder's shaving kit. She then takes a last look around the bedroom to make sure they haven't left anything behind. She sighs and approaches the bed to straighten the wrinkled spread. She rights it so it looks perfect for the next guest. She thinks to herself how she wishes Skinner hadn't come. Things had been going fine until he decided to butt in. She walks out of the bedroom as Mulder comes in with the vacuum. She hands him his shaving kit and walks over to her suitcase to put her makeup in. "Well everything seems to be here Mulder," says Scully as she starts to shut her suitcase. She stops and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "Wait a minute. I know I am missing something." She turns and frowns at Mulder. "My nightgown! I never found the nightgown. What if Skinner is holding it as evidence?"

"You mean like he has a little fetish or something?" asks Mulder grinning as he plugs in the vacuum.

"No," says Scully rolling her eyes. "What if he is going to use this against us later? Are you really serious about not going directly back to DC?"

"Yeah," says Mulder. "I have a really great idea about where to go. I think we should go to .........and..........." He turns on the vacuum and keeps talking.

"What?! I can't hear you!," says Scully with her hands on her hips. "Mulder!" He ignores her and starts to vacuum up the sunflower seed shells from the carpet. She throws her hands up in the air and turns back to her suitcase to zip it up. All of a sudden she feels the suction of the vacuum on the back of her neck. She spins around and grabs it out of Mulder's mischievous hands. Turning it off she glares at him. "Mulder, get serious for once! Now are you all packed to go or what?"

"Oh, I see that now we are on the way home you're going to turn back into the same old Scully. Can't take a joke anymore can you?" says Mulder picking up his overnight bag and tossing it over his shoulder. "Maybe we should go right home. It would have been a big mistake." He walks out the door.

Scully watches him go. She thinks to herself that he is being too sensitive and he'll come out of it. He was being moody because of this newest restriction set on them. She turns back to her suitcase and lugs it off of the couch. "What was I thinking! I never even used the microscope and Mulder was right. It weighs a ton!" She drags it to the door and throws it down the stairs. It lands in the dirt and she hops over it closing the door. She looks around and sees Mulder sitting on top of a nearby picnic table. He is leaning on his knees, his feet resting on one of the seats. She snorts as she sees he is once again eating sunflower seeds. 'Doesn't he ever stop eating those', she asks herself. She leaves the suitcase behind and approaches the table. Sitting down beside him she tucks her arm through his.

"Mulder, you aren't going to get upset with me just because I don't enjoy having a vacuum cleaner sucking on my neck are you? I'd rather it was you and not the vacuum." She gives one of her rare giddy laughs. Mulder finally chuckles and looks at her.

"Its just you lose your temper too easy Scully. There isn't any reason to bite my head off. I was just teasing."

"I'm a redhead. I'm expected to have a temper," says Scully. "Well at least I'm a redhead at heart." She runs her hand through her hair. "Now are we going somewhere or not?"

"I had made some tentative plans, but now I'm not sure if it was a good idea," says Mulder looking away again.

"Tell me," says Scully pulling on his arm. "I promise I won't get mad or upset. I'll try to be more open about things. Oh, I know. You came up with something else to investigate. We're in California, I know you want to check out Death Valley. Okay, fine Mulder we'll go to Death Valley because thetas a good place for us to go when Skinner gets a hold of us again." She smiles at him, but he doesn't look at her.

"I didn't really have time to make arrangements myself so I had a little help," says Mulder leaning over and pulling a Fed-Ex package from his bag. "I called the other day from the trailer when you were sleeping." He pulls a piece of paper from his pocket and slaps it on top of the package and hands them to her. "I'll give this to you now, but its not how I really planned it. Like I said it was a bad idea." He pulls his arm from hers and picks up his bag. He walks away to talk to Howie on the porch of the office. Howie nods and motions Mulder over to the van and takes his bag from him.

Scully looks down at the envelope and sees the return address as "The Lone Gunmen". First she looks at the paper and sees a faxed confirmation for two tickets to Las Vegas. She laughs to herself as she realizes Mulder wants to try to hit it big. She opens up the Fed-Ex package and looks in. She sees a small velvet box and takes it out. Her expression immediately changes and she bites her lip as she opens up the box to see a carot diamond ring. She takes it out and really stares at it and then looks up at the sound of a motor. She sees Howie driving away in the van with Mulder in it. "Mulder! Where the hell are you going?" she yells as she jumps to her feet standing on the seat of the picnic table. The van leaves and Scully runs to the office where Kate and Skinner are standing over a map of the area.

"Kate! Did you hear where Mulder was going?" asks Scully gasping for breath.

"He is going back to DC Agent Scully," says Skinner. "As you should be. Now why are you standing here and not on that van?" He glances down seeing the package and ringbox.

"that's a very good question Sir," says Scully looking down.

"Are you sure you're doing the right thing?" asks Howie turning around to glance at Mulder as he drives the van along.

"I have no idea," says Mulder looking out the window. "So much has happened so fast and I guess I just got taken up in the moment. Scully probably won't ever speak to me again."

"Oh I'm not so sure about that. Son, let me give you some advice. First, do you really love her? You're not confusing your feelings for something else?"

"Yes, of course of love her," says Mulder looking annoyed at being viewed as someone who needed advice on relationships.

"Your love for her has to be so strong that you would do anything for her. As farfetched as it sounds you have to be willing to go to the ends of the earth for her," says Howie.

"Does Antarctica count," asks Mulder. Howie gives him a strange look but continues.

"Love is a strange thing Agent Mulder. You may only find true love once during this path we call life. That love may last a lifetime, or it may last a few years, or a few days, maybe even a few hours or even minutes. Then there are those rare instances where its love at first sight. Somehow you glance at a person in a park or restaurant and something flickers, but it wasn't meant to be at that time. Never underestimate the power that it holds and how your whole path will be guided by the decisions you make. I urge you to think hard and realize that life is short and you need to live each day as though it is your last. My Nadine and I were only married for five years. We got married when we were just twenty-two years old. I had just graduated college and had accepted a journalist position at the LA Times. Yeah, I'm surprised that I once worked there too." He glances at Mulder's surprised but intrigued face. "One day my Nadine complained of a headache. We didn't think much of it. She took some aspirin and thought it would go away. It didn't. We thought it was just migraines, but we went to the doctor anyway. Cancer, he said. Nothing we could do. Those six months were the worst of my life. She was my world and even now I just can't see how I could ever love anyone like that again." He glances in the rearview mirror and at the mention of the word cancer Mulder bites his lip and cringes as he looks out the window.

"Turn around," says Mulder without looking at Howie.

"that's what I hoped you would say," says Howie making a u-turn.

"Agent Scully, you didn't answer my question?" says Skinner staring at her. "What is in that package?"

"My whole life," says Scully quickly stuffing the box into the fed-ex package and averting her eyes from Skinner. "Kate, is there any way that you could drive me to the airport? I need to get back to DC as soon as possible."

"Well sure I guess I could," says Kate looking reluctantly up at Skinner. "Get your suitcase and I'll pull the jeep around."

Scully turns to go retrieve her suitcase from outside her trailer, but Skinner reaches out and catches her by the arm. "There is no room for petty squabbles in the FBI Agent Scully. If Mulder and you have had a misunderstanding you should inform me. Partners need to rely on each other and obviously they can't when they don't see eye to eye."

"We are not fighting," says Scully. "I need to go get my luggage." She walks out the door and toward the trailer. Skinner watches her go and then turns back to the map.

Kate pulls up in the jeep and Scully throws her suitcase in and then hops in next to Kate. They pull onto the dirt road. "Is there a shortcut or something we could take?" asks Scully. "I don't want to miss that flight to DC."

"Not really," says Kate. "Once we get off this dirt road though and get on the main road we should make some good time."

Scully nods in disappointment.

"Walter was right back there wasn't he? You and Agent Mulder had a falling out didn't you?" asks Kate.

"Its complicated," says Scully looking out the window.

"I know that you probably aren't comfortable talking about it with a stranger, but sometimes it helps to get it out in the open," says Kate. "If you're worried that I will tell Walter about it, I won't. Some things are best left private. Especially personal issues that need not be discussed in the workplace."

Scully snorts. "that's just it Kate. Let me quote, 'Rule #12 of the FBI Special Agent Obligation Manual - You shall not be romantically involved with your fellow agents. Any intimate relationship with a partner will be grounds for immediate reassignment. Second offense will result in immediate dismissal."

"that's harsh," says Kate looking over at a quiet Scully. "that's not realistic of real life. Things may happen to change people. How long have you been in love with him?"

Scully doesn't answer right away. She still isn't sure if she should even be discussing this with anyone, but she can't resist the caring tone of Kate's voice. "Seven years," she says flatly.

"Seven years? Really? How long have you been partnered together?"

"Seven years," says Scully blinking back tears.

"You've loved him since the beginning?"

"Since I first walked into his basement office," says Scully laughing at the irony.

"Oh you poor dear. You've gone on all this time resisting the urge to speak your heart? Does he know how you feel?"

"Yes and the truly amazing thing is that he feels the same way. Even I though it couldn't be possible with the hermit life he has led since I've known him."

They pull onto the main road and Kate waves to Howie returning with the van. "That was a quick trip," says Kate. "That doesn't make sense. There wasn't enough time to go to the airport and back."

Scully looks as they pass the van and sees Mulder sitting hunched down in the van. "Kate, its Mulder. He didn't go to the airport.," says Scully whipping around in her seat. "Catch that van!"

Kate is about to turn around, but the van has stopped and backs up until the two vehicles are facing each other. Both agents jump out and approach each other from opposite sides of the road.



"I'm sorry for leaving," says Mulder softly.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you," says Scully.

"Did you open the package," asks Mulder looking at his hiking boot as he scrapes it along the pavement.

"Yes and if you had stayed around long enough you would have realized that although risky for our careers, I would have to say that the suggestion is quite agreeable for me."

"Are you saying that you would jeopardize your career Agent Scully to marry me?" ask Mulder looking her in the eye.

Her blue eyes grow misty as she replies, "My career is worthless to me if I don't have you in my life, so I guess the answer is yes I would give up everything, but only for you Mulder."

Mulder nods and smiles at her. Kate approaches them. "Here is your baggage Agent Scully. You're going to need it if you are going to catch that flight to DC." Scully takes her suitcase and looks from Kate to Mulder. "Who said anything about going to DC?" She winks at Kate who winks back. Kate walks back to her jeep and drives off.

Mulder notices the fed-ex package sticking out of Scully's shoulder bag and pulls it out. "Now that we finally agree on something, can I seal the moment with a proper proposal?" He pulls the ring box out of the package and opens it. Taking the ring out he gets down on one knee. He takes her left hand in his. "Its been seven years and I wouldn't have traded one day of it, except for only the days that you were taken from me or that you were sick. But that's all behind us now and I don't want to live another day without you, therefore I ask you today Agent Dana Scully..will you marry me?"

Scully smiles with her eyes brimming with tears. She nods as she is speechless. After a couple of moments of looking down into Mulder's hopeful eyes, she nods and says, "Yes, of course I'll marry you Mulder." He gives her a huge smile as he slips the ring on her finger. He takes her hand and kisses it and then says, "Thank you for making me a whole person."

She says, "Thank you for finally offering me a normal life."

Mulder laughs. "Can I please get up now? My knee is killing me."

"Only you Mulder could take a romantic moment and squash it," says Scully still smiling as Mulder gets up and embraces her. She leans up and kisses him. After a moment Mulder places his forehead to hers. "So now what? We've got our luggage."

"Hows the weather in Vegas?" asks Scully flirtatiously.

"Sunny and hot," replies Mulder with a grin.

"Well I say we take advantage of our time off and hit the slots," says Scully.

Mulder releases her and picks up her suitcase. He leads her over to the van where Howie is still sitting in the driver's seat. "On to the airport Howie," says Mulder throwing the suitcase in and helping Scully in.

"You know Scully at some of those wedding chapels in Vegas you can get married by Elvis."


Kate arrives back at the trailer park to find several police cars surrounding her office building. She walks in to find Skinner on his cellphone. He turns to face her and gives her a thumbs up. Shortly after he hangs up. "It looks like someone sited the fugitive," says Skinner to Kate. "Five miles west of here. Unfortunately, he is holding a woman and a small child hostage in their cabin and he is threatening to kill them if we don't give him what he wants."

"And what does he want," asks Kate.

Skinner sighs and runs his hand over his forehead. "You. He wants you, but we aren't going to give him that. Its too dangerous. If we can trick him into thinking we will go along with him we can do a rescue. I don't want to risk your life Kate, but I'm going to have to ask you to come with myself the other agents and police to the cabin. That way Bobby will see you and maybe will be willing to deal.

Kate shudders at the thought of having to see Bobby again after all these years, but she thinks of the poor woman and child who have become victims in their own home. She can't let anyone suffer anymore. "I'll do it," she says.

Meanwhile in a small log cabin:

"You aren't going to get away with this, my husband is coming home in an hour and my neighbors saw you force me in the house with that gun. There are going to be police here any minute," says Jean Foster to Bobby who is helping himself to her refrigerator.

"He'll be sorry if he interferes," says Bobby pulling a fried chicken leg out and taking a bite out of it. "I'm in far more trouble than you realize ma'am. The police may be after me, but the FBI is doing the dealing. They know what I want and when I get her you won't have to worry any more." He pulls back the curtain to glance outside.

Meanwhile on a plane to Vegas:

"Mulder, we shouldn't have left Skinner to take care of that fugitive," says Scully holding his hand.

"Scully, we're on leave and Skinner told us, no ordered us to get out of there. He has been in the bureau almost three times longer that we have. What could possibly go wrong?"

"Nothing I suppose. I'm just not used to this leisure time that we have been granted Mulder. I'm usually the one to be telling you that we need not save the world every time."

"When have we been given the opportunity to save the world Scully? I'm still waiting for that date with CSM that is going to tell me that the aliens are finally on their way. Only then will I be able to truly save the world."

Scully turns to Mulder. "You are sounding like an arrogant, conceited jerk," says Scully.

"Scully, I am deeply wounded that you would call me those offensive names. You know I couldn't save the world....alone that is. I would need the assistance of one certain redheaded, sexy little pathologist."

"that's much better," says Scully putting her head on Mulder's shoulder.

The agents have arrived in Las Vegas. Its 7:45 P.M. They proceed to the baggage area and wait for Scully's suitcase.

"Mulder, you made a hotel reservation right?" she asks.

Mulder gets a strange look on his face.

"Mulder, please tell me that you remembered to get us a room."

"Well it kinda slipped my mind Scully," says Mulder nervously looking at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Mulder its Friday night and we're in Las Vegas. We'll be lucky to find a room anywhere tonight!," exclaims Scully.

"Are you suggesting Agent Scully that we share a room," asks Mulder suggestively.

"Well, it was part of my plan," replies Scully with a twinkle in her eye. "That is if we can even find a room. Now please go do that while I wait for my suitcase."

"You're the Special Agent in Charge of this project," says Mulder saluting Scully and walking off.

Scully laughs. "My life is finally coming together. I'm on vacation, I'm engaged to Fox Mulder and he says I'm in charge!"

Mulder approaches an information booth with the intention of finding out the name of a good place to stay. "I need to rent some rooms," he says. "Oh sorry, one room. Force of habit. Do ya know a nice, but reasonably priced hotel?"

The information agent just stares at Mulder. She snaps her gum and taps a pencil on the counter. "You want to make a room reservation, now? Its in the middle of Spring vacation, on a weekend and you want to rent a room? What planet are you from?"

"Ah, earth the last time I checked," replies Mulder scratching his head. "You make renting a room sound like a bad thing. I just got this kooky idea to fly in here on a whim with my partner, oh I mean my friend.....girlfriend, oh wow fiancee. That sounds really strange coming from me."

"Listen mister, I don't care if you sailed in here with a limousine with the Queen of England. You aren't getting a room tonight. Just look at the list." She swings a monitor around and he starts to read the list of hotels. 'Caesar's Palace - no vacancy, Luxor - no vacancy, Treasure Island - no vacancy, etc., etc.'

"Listen, we don't need any fancy hotel suite. We're used to sticking to a budget, so just give us whatever you've got. It can be a Howard Johnson's or a Motel 6 or any place for that matter. While you're at it I need to rent a car too."

The agent pulls up a couple of options on the computer. "You're in luck. You've got a couple of choices. May I suggest option C?"

"Whats option C?" asks Mulder.

"A 2000 Mustang convertible," smiles the agent snapping her gum again.

"that's not really our style," says Mulder. "Anything in a sedan type?"

The agent goes back into the computer after giving a Mulder a sympathetic look. "I understand that older people like bigger cars. Lets see what I can find."

"Older people? I'm only 39, she's only 36. Who are you calling old people," asks Mulder.

"It was only an observation," replies the agent.

"Never mind what I said. We'll take the convertible. One thing though your company does have insurance against decapitation right?"

"We have insurance in the event we give you a faulty car and it causes you to get into an accident, but I think it would be a little difficult to collect in the case that you have just described Sir."

"I don't know about that," says Mulder taking out his credit card. "I've seen dead people."

The agent takes the credit card and gives Mulder a funny look before turning back to her computer.

Meanwhile Skinner and Kate have arrived at the Fosters' cabin. "I don't want you to feel like you are in any danger," says Skinner quietly to her. "The FBI and the police are here and he can't get to you. I'll protect you."

Kate smiles. "I'm sure everything will be fine with you here." She leans up and gives him a tender kiss on the cheek. Just then Police Chief Roberts approaches the couple as Kate pulls away.

"Excuse me Sir, do you want us to move in or do you think we should wait it out?"

"Wait it out, he'll be telling us what he wants," replies Skinner wrapping his arm around Kate's shoulders. Roberts' cell phone rings.

"Yeah. There is no way you are going to get away Smith. You might as well surrender. We've got you surrounded and the FBI is here to collect you when we're done with you. You are not getting your hands on Kate. She is here and she'll negotiate with you, but only over the telephone." He covers the phone with one hand. "He wants to speak to Kate," he says to Skinner. Skinner reluctantly nods and Kate takes the phone. She stares at it a moment and then taking a deep breath she puts the receiver to her ear.

"Bobby, its me," says Kate. "Why can't you just let those nice people go and come out. Its time to give up Bobby. There is no way to escape. They'll kill you if they have to." She gives a shocked look to Skinner.

"Whats he saying?" asks Skinner.

"Bobby, you don't want to kill anyone, especially a mother and her child. Why don't you let them go and I'll come in and visit you if you do." Skinner attempts to take the phone from her. He mouths the word 'NO' to her, but she shakes her head.

"I promise that if you let Mrs. Foster and her son go I will come in and we can work this all out. There is always a solution to every problem." Just then the door of the cabin opens and the little boy is pushed out onto the front porch. The little boy cautiously walks down the stairs onto the front lawn where a police officer grabs him and runs for cover. Bobby comes out on the porch holding Mrs. Foster by the throat. He has a gun to her head.

"Okay Kate, you can come over here by me now," says Bobby motioning her over. "You come with me and she doesn't get hurt."

Kate starts to walk toward him and Skinner grabs her by the arm. "Its a trick," he hisses. "You have no chance against him. I will not allow you to do this. We have a professional negotiator here for that. There is no reason to do this. The only thing I can think of is that you still are in love with him. Is that true?"

"No, of course not," says Kate quietly. "I just want everyone to be okay, that's all." She leans up and kisses Skinner tenderly on the lips. She then turns and walks quickly across the front lawn of the cabin and stands behind Bobby.

"I knew that you wouldn't disappoint me darling. You and I belong together." He shoves Mrs. Foster away from him and she runs into the waiting arms of a nearby FBI agent. Bobby then turns to Kate and pulls her against him. "Together forever, that's what we always said. I have just one little concern Kate that I would like to take care of before we start our new life together."

"Whats that?" her voice trembling.

"This," replies Bobby immediately pointing Mulder's gun at Skinner and firing three times aiming at his chest.

Skinner was taken off guard and unfortunately he realizes that he has been hit and he sinks to the ground.

Kate screams and wretches away from Bobby backing away. He points the gun at her and is prepared to fire when a sniper fires a round at his head and Bobby falls to the ground dead.

Kate with tears streaming down her face runs to the aid of Walter Skinner who lays unconscious in a rapidly growing pool of his own blood.

The last suitcase has come off of the conveyor belt. Scully pulls the flaps of the baggage opening to peek inside. "Hey, you there. Yeah you. Is there anymore baggage from Flight #411?"

"No ma'am," says the baggage handler. "Everything has been unloaded. If you're missing some luggage you've got to go to the main counter of your airline to report it. They will put a trace on it, but it could have ended up anywhere." He gets into the luggage wagon and drives away.

Scully jumps when she feels a presence right behind her. She spins around. "Jesus, Mulder. Why do you have to always sneak up on me."

"I wasn't sneaking up on you. I was just wondering why you were checking out behind the scenes of the luggage claim area."

"My suitcase apparently has been lost," says Scully rolling her eyes.

"How could they lose that? It weighed a ton. It would be like losing an elephant," says Mulder.

"Watch it G-Man or you'll be sleeping in the car tonight," says Scully finally cracking a smile.

"Well I kinda have to talk to you about that Scully," says Mulder. "Actually may I comment you on how lovely you look today. That green top compliments your hair perfectly," chatters Mulder.

"Mulder, you never compliment me on my looks and just because we've decided to change the scope of our relationship I don't believe for a second that you've changed. Therefore, you are holding something back from me and since we agreed not to keep things from each other anymore I request, no demand you tell me this instant what is going on in that head of yours."

"I'm hungry. You wanna get something to eat? I just walked by a little sandwich shop. We could get it to go and go sit out in the sun or something," Mulder rambles on.


"Okay, okay. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I found a place for us to sleep and I rented us a car," says Mulder.

"That sounds promising. Now whats the bad news," says Scully.

"Well first its a great car. I rented us a red 2000 Mustang convertible," says Mulder smiling.

"Mulder, you would never rent something on your own like that. What gives?"

"I thought we should celebrate a little bit," says Mulder. "And the agent at the desk kinda thought I was too old to be renting it. I showed her a thing or two."

"So you rented us a sports car based on the fact that a kid thought you were over the hill? Mulder, you are over the hill. You are forty."

"Its April and my birthday isn't until October. I am still 39 and in fine form Scully. He flexes his muscle which causes Scully to laugh and shake her head.

"Okay enough about the state of your physique," says Scully. "What is the bad news?"

"The bad news," says Mulder putting his arm around Scully and leading her toward the escalator is that our hot sports car is going to be our love nest for the evening. I couldn't get us a room anywhere."

Scully stops in her tracks and looks up at him. "Mulder, we have to sleep in the car? In the middle of Las Vegas? Plus my bag is stolen. Where are we going to shower?"

"I hear the local Y is very accommodating Scully."

Scully laughs and shakes her head again as Mulder and her finally step onto the escalator. "As I said before Mulder. Only for you."

Meanwhile Skinner has been rushed to the hospital and has been rushed in for immediate emergency surgery. Luckily all three bullets have missed his vital organs, but he has lost a lot of blood and every minute counts. Kate waits nervously in the waiting room. Minutes turn into hours and finally a doctor comes out to speak to her.

"Mr. Skinner is a very lucky man. I have never in my fifteen years of practicing medicine seen someone survive with the injuries that he sustained. He is in excellent health and that was a major factor in him being able to tolerate this surgery. He is not out of the woods yet. He needs to stay here at least for two weeks. Is there anyone I should call regarding his care?"

"I only met him a couple of days ago," admits Kate. "I don't know much about him, but I can tell you that he is an Assistant Director with the FBI. He works out of the Washington DC headquarters, so perhaps you should call them and fill them in. He does have a couple of favorite agents that probably should be notified. Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. They were just here earlier today, but they were leaving to return home. Well actually I don't know if they went straight home. They talked about making a side trip. Unfortunately, I don't know where, but if you call the FBI I am sure they must have a way of getting a hold of them. "

"I'll have the head nurse call Washington immediately and see if there is any family I can inform," says the doctor. "What exactly is your relationship with the patient ma'am?"

"I'm a friend," says Kate rising to her feet. "Can I see him now?"

"He is in the recovery unit and from there he will most likely be transferred to the ICU. Hopefully he'll only be there for a couple of days and then he can stay in a regular unit. Until then I can't allow you to see him. There is a strict rule here at the hospital that only immediate family members are allowed into the ICU unit. Therefore, I'm sorry to say you won't be able to actually see him until he is in that regular room."

"I have to see him," says Kate tearing up. "What if he doesn't have any family? I could be the last one to comfort him if something does go wrong. What kind of person are you to deprive a gravely ill man the chance for some companionship? I can't wait until he is transferred. It could be too late."

"You should have thought of that earlier ma'am. You could have said you were his fiancee. I would have never known. I sympathize with you. I really do, but I have to be the one to sign the papers that allow visitors into the unit. I take an oath regarding being honest when it comes to providing good medical care. I can't break the rules."

Tears roll down Kate's cheeks and the doctor puts his arm around her and pats her shoulder. "He is pretty special to you isn't he?" Kate nods and wipes her eyes.

"I just met him, but no man has been more caring and gentle than Walter. I didn't think that there was a thing as love at first sight, but there is and I've fallen victim to it. I just wish there was a way for me to see him."

"Maybe there is," says the doctor taking his arm from around Kate and concentrating on the clipboard in his hand. He flips a couple of papers and scribbles a couple of lines on a form and signs it. I have to go now, but keep up the chin and don't worry. He is going to have the best of care here and I'll be checking on him a couple times a day. He backs away to the door and turns. He quickly stops at the nurses station and talks to the head nurse and leaves the clipboard with her. He waves to Kate as he finally leaves.

Kate takes a seat and picks up a magazine. She knows there is no point of sitting there all evening as they aren't going to let her in, but she doesn't want to leave. An hour later she tosses the magazine away and rises to her feet to go get a cup of coffee from the machine. A nurse comes into the waiting room. "Ma'am, I just wanted to tell you that your fiancee has been moved to the ICU unit and he is asking for you. As long as you don't have any flowers with you I can take you to him."

Kate stares at the nurse and nods blankly. "Thank you," she says to the nurse following her into the corridor. Silently she gives a little thank you to the kindly doctor who risked his reputation and career to bring happiness into other people's lives.

Its 10:30 P.M. and the agents have returned to their car in the parking lot of Caesar's Palace after having eaten at the buffet.

Scully arrives at the car first and waits for Mulder to unlock it. "Mulder, I can't believe how much you ate at that buffet. Don't you feel sick?"

"No I feel fine. I wanted to get my money's worth," replies Mulder patting his stomach as he gets into the car. Scully gets in and shuts the door.

She turns to him. "Don't think just because we are engaged now that you're going to let yourself go to hell. You still have to do your yearly endurance test for the bureau and I refuse to have a potbellied husband, so curb the eating binges."

"Scully, a guy has to eat," replies Mulder. "Well maybe I did overdo it a little bit." He starts to rub his stomach and then gives a burp.

Scully makes a disgusted face as she watches Mulder unfasten his belt and pants and then recline his seat.

"And you think you know someone," she says aloud.

"Oh come on Scully. Just because you prefer the salad bar doesn't mean I have to live like that. Whats wrong? Are you mad at me because we're sleeping in the car tonight?"

"No I'm not mad. Just disappointed," says Scully. "I don't know about you, but I'm getting in the backseat and sleeping there. She turns and crawls into the backseat. Mulder opens up the door of the car and gets out. He then gets in the backseat with Scully and shuts the door.

"All we need is a drive in movie," says Mulder as he pulls her to him and the two of them arrange themselves as comfortably as possible by Mulder sitting with his back against the door and Scully sitting between his legs leaning back against him.

"You do realize that we are going to end up really hurting tomorrow by sleeping like this," says Scully.

"Yeah, well we don' have a lot of choice," says Mulder. "I'm really going to start hurting if you don't turn around and let me kiss you," he whispers in her ear. Scully smiles and turns her head to kiss Mulder. Several moments later Scully has turned her body completely around and the agents are going at it hot and heavy.

"Mulder I can't believe we're doing this in a parked car," says Scully in between kisses.

"Oh come on Scully, haven't you ever fantasized a stakeout turning out this way," replies Mulder nuzzling her neck as he reaches to pull her green shirt up.

"Well, maybe. What about you?" asks Scully sitting back and allowing him to remove her shirt.

"Dana Scully? Are you saying you were having impure thoughts about your partner?" asks Mulder.

"And you weren't doing the same?" asks Scully leaning in to kiss him again.

"Guilty as charged," replies Mulder pulling Scully to his chest.

Just then they hear a scraping on the door of the driver's side. Scully glances up to see what it is, but the windows are too fogged up to see anything.

"Mulder, what was that?" asks Scully frowning as she pulls away. All of a sudden they hear talking and then the door is whipped open. Scully is shocked to see a man with straggly hair stick his head into the car. He glances in the backseat and Scully grabs her shirt to cover up her bra clad body.

"What have I got here?" he asks as he laughs looking at Mulder and Scully. "You enjoying yourselves back there? Hey Sam, look at this." Another guy sticks his head in and then laughs.

"Sorry folks you're going to have to get out of the car. This is a stick-up," says Sam as he points a gun at them.

"Who the hell are you?" asks Mulder glaring.

"I'm the Easter bunny and this is Cupid," says the guy with straggly hair. "Now get out the car now."

"Could you at least turn your back for a moment," asks Scully with her eyes flashing.

The guys both smile and then lean out of the car. Scully pulls her shirt back on. "Now what Mulder," asks Scully as Mulder moves to get out of the car. She puts his arm on his shoulder. "Button up your pants. We don't need to serve as any more entertainment for these guys."

"I'm sorry to say Scully they have a pretty good idea what we were up to," says Mulder doing up his belt.

The agents get out of the car. "Okay give me your money and the keys to the car," says Sam pointing the gun at the two agents. Scully curses herself for putting her gun in her luggage and thus leaving themselves totally unprotected.

Mulder slowly pulls out his wallet and starts to open it.

"Never mind removing the money, I'll take the credit cards too," says Sam. "Your foxy little lady friend got any money on her?"

"I'm Foxy, shes Scully," says Mulder making a poor attempt at a joke.

"Why do you go with this guy," asks Sam motioning to Mulder. "He acts like a conceited pretty boy."

"Sometimes I wonder," replies Scully digging in her pocket and pulling out a few bills and handing them to him. He grabs the bills and her left hand at the same time.

"Ah, I'll take this too," says Sam holding onto her ring finger.

"No!," says Scully biting her lip. "You've got our money and you're taking the car. Please let me keep my ring."

"He'll get you another one," says Sam pulling it off her finger.

A couple of tears roll down Scully's cheek. Mulder reaches for her hand and squeezes it. "I'll get you another one Scully. We'll pick it out together this time," he whispers. She nods blankly.

The two men order the agents away from the car. "Now I want you both to put your hands on top of your head, lie down on your stomachs on the ground and count to one hundred. Then you can get up."

"Ah, can I at least get my clothes from the car," asks Mulder with his hands on the back of his head. Scully is already on the ground.

"You know what? I'm not feeling overly generous today," says Sam. "Get on the ground." Mulder gives him a disgusted look and sinks to his knees and then to the ground.

"I don't hear you counting says the straggly haired man as the two crooks get into the car."

"One," yells Mulder.

"Two," whispers Scully.

The Mustang peels out of the parking garage and the agents are left lying there. Mulder turns to face Scully. He pulls her up to sit next to him. "The important thing Scully is that we're alive." Scully nods as she looks down.

"I meant what I said. I'll get you another ring, I promise you," he kisses her hand and then stands up pulling her to her feet.

"Its not the just the ring Mulder. They took away something more than that. The ring is just tangible. Its the memory of when you proposed that went along with it."

"But you have still have that here," he points a finger to her head. "And in here," he presses a finger to her heart. "We have a lifetime to make new memories and I don't want you to dwell on it."

"What are we going to do now," asks Scully sniffing.

"You have a quarter?" asks Mulder.

"Yeah. Mulder you aren't thinking of winning our money back are you?" asks Scully pulling a quarter from her pocket and handing it to him.

"No, we're going to give the Lone Gunmen a collect call," replies Mulder putting his arm around Scully and leading her back toward Caesar's Palace.

Kate slowly enters Skinner's room and her heart drops to her stomach when she sees how pale he looks. He seems to be sleeping and she doesn't want to disturb him, however for some reason he senses her presence and his eyes slowly open. He attempts a small smile.

"What happened?" he asks.

"You were shot, three times," says Kate. "You've got to stay here for two weeks, but you're going to be okay."


"He is dead. A sniper shot him after he shot you and I have to be honest that I am glad that he is dead. He won't be able to hurt anyone else ever again." Tears stream down Kate's face as she approaches the bed and takes Skinner's hand in her own.

"How long have I been here?"

"A little over twelve hours. You were in surgery for over three of them. I've had the doctor call DC to contact Agents Mulder and Scully, but they can't seem to reach them. I'll try reaching them myself when I leave."

"You've been here the entire time," asks Skinner amazed.

"Yes, you've been calling out for me. They finally allowed me to see you. They said I couldn't see you unless I was family. Your doctor was kind and allowed everyone to assume we were engaged so I could see you. I hope you aren't uncomfortable with what I did. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. I didn't know if you had any relatives to contact and I didn't want you to be all alone. As I said before your fellow agents will be concerned when they hear of what has happened to you."

Skinner squeezes Kate's hand. "I've never met a more caring woman than you Kate. No, I'm not uncomfortable with what you led others to believe about us. Matter of fact I kinda like the idea that someone wouldn't be offended to be engaged to me. It makes me wonder if I should jump the gun a little bit and ask you if you would ever consider living in DC?" He raises his eyes to Kate's with the question.

Kate's mouth falls open as she realizes that Skinner is seeking some sort of confirmation from her. A confirmation of her willingness for a commitment. "Are you asking me if I would be willing to move to DC to live with you?"

"No, I'm an old-fashioned sort of guy Kate. Although, in this circumstance I'm probably being a little irrational. Kate Smith, I'm asking you to marry me."

Kate looks from Skinner's hopeful face to the ceiling and then to the heart monitor that makes a constant beeping. She has seen tragedy and she has seen love and that love has been in Walter Skinner's eyes. She too has realized that life is too short and God has given her this second chance for happiness. Her eyes rest upon Skinner's once again. She smiles as her eyes tear up again.

"Walter Skinner, I would be honored to marry you."

"Lone Gunmen." Langley answers the phone at their secret hideaway.

"I'm not being recorded am I," asks Mulder.

"No. No of course not," says Langley turning around and shrugging at the tape revolving behind him.

"I better not be as I'm in a little embarrassing situation here and I don't want any evidence of this incident existing," continues Mulder.

"Don't tell me, you're in jail for inadvertently soliciting an undercover prostitute. Mulder, how many times have we told you not to frequent those kinds of bars. You never know what kind of people hang out in those kind of places." Frohike and Byers are intrigued at this point and gather around the speaker phone that Langley has switched the call over to.

"No! What are you guys nuts? I'm with Scully. Geez, you guys give me a bad reputation," says Mulder.

"Whats up Mulder," asks Byers.

"Yeah, you and the gorgeous Agent Scully should be snuggled up a honeymoon suite by now," says Frohike sarcastically.

"that's the problem," says Mulder. "I sorta forgot to tell you to make hotel reservations. We were going to sleep in the car, but something happened to interfere with that plan too."

"Let me guess, you guys are in jail for indecent exposure in a parked car," says Langley as the three gunmen look at each other and silently laugh.

Scully grabs the phone from Mulder. "Look here you three dipsticks, we got robbed. We have no money, no credit cards and neither of us have any baggage. They stole the car and my engagement ring, so you better come up with some dough at the Western Union or I'm going to make a Y incision on you where it really hurts when I get home."

"Touchy, touchy Dana," says Frohike. "Now see if you had agreed to marry me instead of Mulder we would be sailing the Mediterranean right now and you wouldn't be sitting on a payphone somewhere."

"If I had agreed to marry you Frohike I would have been sitting at a bar drinking too many margaritas," replies Scully smiling up at a scowling Mulder.

Mulder takes the phone back. "Quit trying to encourage my fiancee to leave me Frohike. What have you got that I don't."

"My own business, brains, good looks and guts," replies to Frohike giving a thumbs up to his pals.

"Guts?" asks Mulder with a confused look on his face.

"I told her years ago that she was hot. Look at you, its taken you seven years to finally make a confession and cough up a rock."

"Well I need you to cough up some money now," says Mulder. "We're going to need enough to buy some clothes and get us home. I don't know about Scully, but I don't want to stay here in Vegas any longer. The thrill is gone." Scully nods.

"I just want to go home Mulder. This has been a very long five days."

"All right. We'll forward some money to you. I guess we can do it first thing tomorrow. You should be able to get it by 9:00 A.M.," says Byers.

"Nine o'clock!," yells Mulder into the phone.

"We can't do anything better for ya," says Langley. "All of the Western Union offices are closed here and we can't send money over the phone, so you'll just have to hang tight for the next ...oh nine hours or so."

Scully grabs the phone again. "Did I just hear Mulder say that we aren't going to get any money until TOMORROW morning? Where in the hell are we going to sleep? It was bad enough cramped up in the back seat of that Mustang convertible, but if you think I'm going to sleep in some lobby of a casino you've got to be kidding. And you must have sunflower seeds for brains." She turns and glares at Mulder. Mulder holds up his hands in helplessness.

Mulder takes the phone away from Scully. "Come on guys you don't know what I am dealing with here. there's got to be another way." He turns to look at a glaring Scully. She has her hands folded across her chest and she is tapping her foot.

"Hmm..backseat of a convertible Mulder? How original," says Frohike.

"Okay, fine we'll wait until tomorrow. You better get your butts down to that Western Union office first thing tomorrow or else. Just send that damn money," says Mulder slamming down the phone.

The Lone Gunmen look at each other. "Whats gotten into him?" asks Langley.

"Its supposed to be his honeymoon. Its totally backfired and he is not getting any. You know Scully, if things are as bad as they sound she is not very friendly right now.," says Byers.

"I told her that he was wrong for her years ago," says Frohike walking toward the kitchen.

Meanwhile Kate has called Washington to speak to Skinner's secretary. "I'm Kate Smith, Walter's fiancee and I need to inform you that he has been hurt out here in California," she explains.

Skinner's secretary's eyes pop open wide and she pulls the phone away from her ear and stares at it a moment before she puts it back to her ear.

"I'm sorry ma'am, I thought you said that you are AD Skinner's fiancee?"

"that's right," says Kate.

"Okay," says the secretary apprehensively. "Now what is this about Skinner getting hurt?"

"He has been shot in a shoot out, but he is going to be fine. Actually I spoke to the doctors just moments ago and he is in a regular room now. The prognosis is good and they said he will be ready for travel in about three days."

"Can I speak to him," asks his secretary. "I just want to tell him that everything is under control and we're all rooting for his speedy recovery."

"No, I'm on a payphone down in the lobby. Actually Walter is sleeping. My other reason for this call is I wondered if you could connect me to the office of either Agent Mulder or Agent Scully. They were here out with us, but Walter made them head back to DC and had hoped I could eventually track them down."

"Well, actually Agents Mulder and Scully are on an official leave of absence for....let me see. Another full work week, not counting two weekends." She checks her computer calendar. "They share an office so if you would like I could connect you to Agent Mulder's voice mail and he will be sure to inform Agent Scully. Or I could connect you to both of their voice mails. Its up to you."

"I can't really wait that long. Is there anyway I could get their home telephone numbers?" asks Kate.

"I'm sorry that information is confidential. Please don't take this personally ma'am, but we try to protect our agents as much as possible. there's a lot of crackpots out there seeking vengeance on the agent that put them in jail and unfortunately both Agents Mulder and Scully have been victims of such people on numerous occasions."

"Well, I guess I'll have to leave a voice message. I'll just leave one for Agent Mulder.," says Kate.

Someone walks into the secretary's office and she nods as he puts a paper in front of her. "Ms. Smith, I think that maybe you should recap your story for AD Kersh. He is AD Skinner's associate and is covering for him while he is out there in California. He is going to be interested in what you've just told me."

"AD Kersh," says Kersh.

"Mr. Kersh, this is Kate Smith and I am Walter's fiancee. I needed to call someone there at the bureau and let them know that Walter was shot three times by a fugitive."

Kersh raises his eyebrows. "I didn't know that Walter was engaged. Did he meet you in California?" Kersh is wondering about the validity of Skinner's travel expenses.

"Well it kind of love at first sight. He was here looking for Agents Mulder and Scully and I own the trailer park that they were staying at.:

"Trailer park?" asks Kersh turning to Skinner's secretary. He makes a motion for her to give him a notepad and pen.

"So Skinner is in the hospital?" asks Kersh.

"Yes, he is doing much better now and should be home in three or four days," says Kate.

"And you said Agents Mulder and Scully are there?" asks Kersh. He then covers up the receiver with his hand and mouths to the secretary: 'Aren't they on suspension?' She nods and he frowns turning back to the phone. He cradles the phone against his ear as he starts to take notes.

"Well, the agents aren't here right now. They said that they were going on a little side trip and then back to DC. I didn't have any way to contact them or track them down so I called. I thought they should know that Walter was wounded and I wanted to give them the good news of his recovery and of course the really good news about our engagement. I just hope it doesn't overshadow them of course. You know a woman never wants another woman to interfere with her own moment of happiness."

"No, I don't know," says Kersh readjusting the phone.

"Well I wouldn't want Agent Scully to think that her engagement to Agent Mulder meant any less to Walter and I. I haven't had a chance to tell Walter about their engagement. I've been so excited about my own I haven't even thought to tell him."

"Why don't you wait until you get to DC and surprise him," says Kersh. "I think it would even be more appropriate for Agents Mulder and Scully to tell him themselves. Matter of fact, I think I would like to be present and share in the happy or should I say career altering moment?"

"Career altering?" asks Kate.

"Oh, just a bureau expression. Something that the Agents understand. Its listed in the official manual," says Kersh. He motions to the secretary for a copy of the manual.

"Well, I need to go now, but I am going to leave a message for Agent Mulder on his voice mail. I wish there was a way of tracking them down," says Kate.

"Ms. Smith, you're talking to an AD of the FBI. I will track them down for you personally and let them know everything that you have conveyed to me. I know a sure way of finding out their location. You just concentrate on Skinner and give him my best. I'll look forward to our meeting in a couple of days."

"Thank you Mr. Kersh. I look forward to meeting you. You've been a tremendous help," says Kate.

Kersh hangs up the phone and turns to the secretary. "Get VISA on the line." After a couple of minutes she nods and hands him the phone.

"My name is AD Kersh of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and I need to track down a federal government employee that may be using a government credit card. He is needed at home for an emergency and I want to find out where he is. My badge number is JTT-787373. Yes the card number is 4334 6363 3737 77**. Yes, I'll hold." Kersh checks his notes and then his watch. He thinks how he missed breakfast this morning and he can't believe that he is working on a Saturday. With all the crazy cases everyone has been investigating lately it seemed like all of the AD's had been required to come in for short intervals on weekends.

"Mr. Kersh? That credit card is issued to a Fox W. Mulder and the location of the last charge was Las Vegas, Nevada."

"Las Vegas!," yells Kersh. "Can you tell me what was charged?"

"It looks like a $2000 advancement for cash at the Golden Nugget casino, $1500 for two nights stay at Caesar's Palace and a few smaller miscellaneous charges," says the customer service representative.

"I am going to report that card stolen and I would also like to inform you that I am going to be putting out an APB for the arrest of Mr. Mulder and his accomplice Ms. Dana K. Scully. I'll inform the local police department of the APB and I'll be faxing photos to their office as soon as I get off the phone." Kersh hangs up.

"Sir, there must be some mistake. Agents Mulder and Scully wouldn't deliberately try to steal from the bureau," says the secretary.

"I'm not surprised. Remember these are people who believe that you can't trust the government." Kersh walks out of Skinner's office toward the office of the Director.

Meanwhile Earlier: Its Saturday morning and Scully wakes to the sound of bells, slot machine bells that is. She stretches and groans when she remembers where she is. She sits up and bumps against the large plant to her right. She glances over her shoulder at a sleeping Mulder. Despite her instant arguing he had won her over at using their last dollar of quarters playing the slots and being Mulder he won. His cup of quarters are clutched in the crook of his arm. Scully smiles as she thinks how comical this all is. She glances out over the lobby of the casino and sees a couple staring at them. She then hears them talking. The woman says, "Jim, look at that poor couple I bet they lost all of their money." The man laughs and says, "that's what you get for getting addicted to this stuff." They walk away.

"Mulder, wake up!," says Scully elbowing him. "Its morning and business is picking up. We can't stay here."

Mulder wakes up and yawns. "What time is it?" He scratches his chest and looks down into his cup of quarters.

"Its 8:30 A.M. and its almost time for the money wire to be coming in," says Scully. "I vote we go freshen up and then use our quarters to buy some breakfast. Why didn't you cash that in the first place?"

"Because I figured we wouldn't spend it as fast and it sorta looks like a lot of money the way it is," says Mulder looking into the cup again.

Scully gets up and stretches again. Mulder follows and they head to the nearby restrooms. Ten minutes later they meet again and head to the nearest cashier's window.

"Wow, I'm....I mean we're rich Scully!," exclaims Mulder. "Our $1.00 investment is now worth $22.75. Just enough for the all you can eat breakfast buffet."

Scully rolls her eyes. "No more buffets while we are here. I vote for a bagel and some fresh fruit. Lets head to the food court." She tucks her arm through Mulder's and they start walking.

"You really take the fun out of the word vacation Scully. The next thing you will be doing is suggesting that we donate the remainder of the money to a homeless shelter."

"that's a good idea Mulder," says Scully. "It takes the sin out of where the money came from." She gets in line at the bakery and looks up at the menu. Mulder makes a silly face and tosses his head back and forth imitating her. He mouths, 'It takes the sin out of where the money came from.' She turns around as he is just finishing.

"What is the matter with you?" she gives him a look.

"Nothing, I think I got a creak in my neck from sleeping on that lobby floor," says Mulder pretending to crack his neck. She turns around and realizes she is next in line.

"Yes, I'll take a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, a small fruit cocktail and a cup of coffee. Mulder, what do you want?"

"I'll take the sausage and egg sandwich with a large orange juice," replies Mulder. Scully turns around and gives him a sympathetic look.

"You just can't live without the grease can you?"

"I can't' help it Scully. I'm addicted to junk food. Just eat your bagel and fruit and be thankful that you are my beneficiary on my life insurance policy." He reaches over to pay the cashier.

"Mulder, you never told me that. Why would I be your beneficiary?" asks Scully.

"Well it used to be 50/50 between you and my mother, but once she died I changed the policy so you are the soul beneficiary, but don't get any ideas."


"Don't start working on a secret plan on eliminating me. I'm here to stay, so don't think that I would let a little cholesterol get in the way of me continuing to prove you wrong about your scientific theories. Yes, Fox Mulder the paranormal expert plans on living a very long and productive life."

They take their food and sit down to eat. "Mulder, I can't understand this trip. We've had bad luck on cases before, but this has been unreal. Everything has gone wrong," says Scully.

"I wouldn't say everything," replies Mulder taking a bite out of his sandwich.

"Name one thing that has gone right?" asks Scully stabbing a piece of pineapple with her fork.

"You finally got up the courage to say what I couldn't for seven years," replies Mulder. "What I was afraid to say. You Scully got me to actually believe in us. That there was hope for us after the FBI. When you told me that you loved me in the trailer that was the best thing that has happened to me since I started this quest. Everything in my life has been dark. My parents are dead. My sister is dead. I'm a puppet in a never-ending play that only has a tragic ending. You see how I live, my apartment is dark, my office is dark. But through it all there has been one beacon of light on the horizon. A beacon that I could look to for hope and encouragement. That beacon almost went out a couple of times during the years. Why did it go out you ask? Abduction, Cancer, Pfaster, Antarctica... need I go on? You Scully were my beacon and after you opening up to me I now realize that I have to stop holding back, stop running and walk toward that beacon so that my life can be lit up by you." He looks away.

Scully stares at Mulder as he opens to her. She is touched as he has never been so open with his feelings and the dramatic symbolism he has just described feels familiar to her as she has often thought of him as her anchor. She reaches across the table and takes his hand in hers. "Oh Mulder, that was a beautiful thing that you said and I want you to know that whatever happened on this trip was bearable because I was with you. that's the only way I would ever want things to be because I love you." She gives him a smile which he returns to her. She knows because of his difficult life that its hard for him to say the words, but her heart flutters anyhow.

"I love you too Scully," he says as he kisses her hand.

"Lets go get that money and go home Mulder," says Scully.

"Yeah, home," replies Mulder .

Skinner wakes up in the hospital to a smiling Kate. "Good morning!," he grins at her. "How long have you been sitting there?"

"Oh only about half an hour," replies Kate glancing at her watch.

"What time is it," asks Skinner reaching for his glasses on the nightstand and glancing up at the tv which is turned to CNN.

"It is about 8:30," replies Kate. "There is good news. The doctors say you are making such a speedy recovery that it looks like you can go home on Monday."

"And I was just start to plan how to redecorate the place," says Skinner glancing around and then looking back at Kate. "I've got to call headquarters and inform them of what is going on. God knows what the field office out here has told them. They probably already have scraped the plate off my door anticipating my demise." He starts to reach for the phone.

"I already called headquarters for you. I spoke to your secretary and she put me through to a nice Mr. Kersh. He said not to concern yourself with anything going on. He just wants to make sure that you get well. He informed me that he would tell Agents Mulder and Scully of the outcome of the case as I couldn't track them down," says Kate plumping up his pillow.

"You spoke to AD Kersh?" frowns Skinner. "What exactly did you tell him?"

"I said that there was a shootout with a fugitive. I didn't tell him it was my ex-husband, I felt he didn't need to know that, but I did tell him that you were shot and he was killed. He knows that you are in the hospital and that Agents Mulder and Scully were on their way home. Well they would be after their side trip."

"Side trip?" asks Skinner slightly louder.

"I don't know where they went, but I know they didn't go straight back to DC. I'm not at liberty to say right now why I know this, but I do Walter. Did I do something wrong?"

"Wrong? Wrong? Of course you did something wrong. Do you know what you did? AD Kersh is the worst person that you could of told that Mulder and Scully were missing. Its bad enough that I find out about their impromptu travel plans, but Kersh is going to have their butts in front of a conduct committee as soon as they step off that airplane. They must have got another lead on a case and have gone off on their own. I can't believe Mulder would be so stupid. I just told him that the only way to save their jobs would be to cooperate with me. I would have to authorize all of their cases in writing. I am their ally and here they go breaking the rules the day after I warned them. Kate, I just can't believe you would call the bureau and just spill everything out like that. You don't even know Kersh. He has been waiting to bust Mulder and Scully for years and now he has great ammunition. What else did you tell him? You didn't tell him that we are engaged did you?"

Kate gets red and stammers. "I didn't think that it would be a big secret Walter. I told him we met unexpectantly at the trailer park and we hit it off."

"Oh great! This whole trip looks like one big romantic rendezvous! None of my expenses are going to look valid to Kersh and he is going to be after my a** too when I get home. There is no room for romance in the FBI Kate, trust me. Agents are actually encouraged to remain single to eliminate any distractions. I mean it could have been worse. I could have been caught with a fellow agent and then I would automatically be fired, but at least it was with a non-government employee. I may have a chance at repairing the damage."

"Agents can't date each other? They get automatically fired?" asks Kate biting her lip.

"Yes, its in the official manual. All of the agents know it, but getting back to us, Kate I don't know if I can go through with this marriage. I don't know if I can trust you. I shouldn't be surprised about all of this, I jumped the gun a little bit." Skinner stares at Kate who averts her eyes.

"I understand Walter. I wasn't thinking about what I was saying. I just was so overjoyed that you were going to be okay I wanted to share the news with your colleagues and I guess that news included our engagement...among other things. I just wish that maybe you would find it in your heart to give me a second chance."

"I don't know if I can do that Kate," says Skinner shaking his head. "I just hope not too much damage has been done due to your exuberance. He glances up at the tv.

"What the hell is that! Where is the remote?" He frantically grabs for the remote under the sheets. He finally finds it and increases the volume.

The news commentator announces, "The two alleged criminals are described as being a trustworthy looking pair. The male's name is Fox William Mulder, he described as being a good looking and intelligent individual with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is 6'0" , and has a liking for sunflower seeds. The female's name is Dana Katherine Scully, she is described as being attractive and equally intelligent. She has red hair, blue eyes and stands at 5'3". She is actually a medical doctor and he a trained psychological criminal profiler. They are possibly armed and should be considered as dangerous. Look closely at the two of them and if you should see them please inform your local police department as soon as possible. Do not trust them just because they are FBI agents. They have chosen to go off the straight and narrow. They will be punished upon their apprehension. They may respond to the names of Spooky and Starbuck."

Skinner changes the channel to MSNBC. "The hunt is on for the apprehension of the two FBI agents gone bad. Spooky Mulder and Starbuck Scully are described as being........"

Skinner glances over at Kate, but she is gone.

Mulder and Scully stand in line at the cashier's window. "I think the first thing we should do when we get this money is rent a room and take a shower," says Scully.

"Hmm.. that sounds good," replies Mulder gazing at her suggestively.

"that's not what I meant," says Scully as the line moves forward.

Well we could always pick up a few things and stay longer. Its only Saturday and we still have another eight days before we are due back at work, or what is left of work," says Mulder cracking his knuckles.

"Mulder, we're lucky to still have our jobs after all of these years. Skinner will cooperate with us. He looks the other way now, nothing is going to change that," says Scully reaching out and taking his hand.

"I've really been doing a lot of serious thinking Scully lately. Whats left to investigate anyhow? I've come to accept that my sister is dead. I don't have any contacts left and I hate to admit it but it seems to me that Cancer Man just seems to win every battle."

"Mulder, I can't believe you are talking like this. He may win the battles, but he hasn't won the war yet. If what he says is true, that there is a threat of global colonization, we need to uncover the answers to prevent that from happening. Your quest, your mission in life has been to discover the truth and now you are thinking of giving it all up? For what?"

The line moves forward and Mulder and Scully are at the counter. He turns to her and says, "For you." He then turns to the cashier. "Hi, I'm Fox Mulder and there should be a wire transfer here from a John Byers."

"Do you have any identification Sir?" asks the cashier.

"Unfortunately my wallet was stolen, but somehow I managed to hold onto my FBI badge," says Mulder handing over the badge. The cashier takes it and looks at it turning pale.

"Is your name the only name on the transfer?" asks the cashier nervously.

"Ah, well it should be, but he may have added the name Dana Scully to it," says Mulder glancing at Scully. "Do you have your badge?" She nods and hands it to him.

"I'll be right back," says the cashier taking the two badges. She walks through a door.

"Mulder, you don't need to give up the X-Files for me. There is so much more work that is to be done, so many more things to discover. Just because we have come to terms with our feelings does not mean that our work has to stop."

"that's just it Scully. You always say that we need to stop and look around. Maybe its time to get out of the car and smell the flowers. A couple of years ago I never imagined saying that, but with all I have seen I only recently saw what I want most."

"Whats that?" asks Scully.

"Something that you've deprived yourself of, because of your devotion to the X-Files and me. A normal life."

Scully is really shocked at this point. She doesn't know what to think as they not only have reached a milestone in their relationship, but also in their careers. Would Fox Mulder truly be willing to sacrifice all of his work for her. To live a somewhat normal life (a life with Mulder would never be entirely normal), with a house and picket fence with a dog and children. Yes, children. They had never discussed his feelings on the subject. He knows that she can't have any, but how does he feel about adoption? She makes a mental note to bring up the subject later.

"Mulder, I think you are feeling abnormal," she feels his forehead as two security guards approach them.

"Are you Agents Mulder and Scully," asks one of them.

"Ah, yeah you've got our badges," says Mulder annoyed as he sees the other guard glancing down at the two badges in his hand.

"Then you're going to have to come with us. Both of you please place both hands on the counter and spread em'."

"What!," exclaims Mulder. "Is this some sort of joke? I'm here with my fiancee, ah partner and we are here to pick up a money transfer. What the hell is going on?" yells Mulder as one guard grabs him by the arm and forces him up against the counter.

The other guard forces Scully up against the counter and starts to frisk her.

"Watch it!," says Scully glaring.

"Get your hands off of her you idiot!," yells Mulder as he himself gets frisked. "You just wait until the bureau hears about this!"

"Save it for the judge!," says the guard as he handcuffs Mulder and turns him around. Mulder glances over at Scully who has also been handcuffed.

"Sir, there obviously has been a mistake. Agent Mulder and I are returning from a case. If you need to contact someone, I can give you the bureau's phone number. Our direct superior, AD Walter Skinner can back us up on this. He may still be in California, but I can give you his cell phone number."

"The bureau is who has sent the APB on you. Now will the two of you just shut up? There is a couple of friends that we want you to meet out front."

Mulder and Scully are led out front of the casino to a waiting police cruiser. Two cops get out of the car to meet the security guards.

"Good work boys!," says one of the cops reaching for Mulder's arm. The other one takes Scully. "We thought they would be harder to catch, but it seems they aren't as smart as their profiles."

"What in the hell are you talking about?" yells Mulder.

"Mulder, yelling isn't going to get us anywhere," says Scully.

"I'm going to keep yelling until someone tells me what this is all about," yells Mulder.

"You have the right to remain silent........," recites the officer holding Mulder.

"We're under arrest? For what? We have the right to know what we are accused of!," says Mulder.

"You are wanted for fraud and the embezzlement of federal funds by use of a credit card," says the officer holding Scully. He opens the door of the cruiser and helps her in. The other officer opens the other door and shoves Mulder who hits his head as he falls into the car.

"We're not the ones that stole any credit cards and you're going to be sorry for that buster!," yells Mulder as the officer slams the door in his face.

"Mulder?" He turns towards Scully.


"You reported the bureau credit card as stolen, right?"

"that's another small detail I forgot," says Mulder.

"When we are married I'm not letting you have a credit card or a check book," says Scully looking out the window.

"And here I thought the future was bright," says Mulder.

"Your shades were in the car," smiles Scully.

"I take it they are going to need bail money now," says Langley as he takes a slice of pizza from the box lying on the table that the Lone Gunmen are sitting around. The tv is turned to CNN.

"Its obviously a big mixup," says Byers pouring himself a glass of Coke. "Well, whats our plan? Should we bail them out, or let them sit for a while?"

"They may not even be eligible for bail," says Langley wiping his mouth with a napkin. "They're Feds and they aren't going to get off that easy."

"I'm not going to let Dana sit in jail," says Frohike. "that's no place for the illustrious Agent Scully. Mulder can rot in jail for all I care, but Dana doesn't deserve to be caught up in all of this."

"What do you plan to do? Break her out of jail," asks Langley.

"Maybe," says Frohike getting up and walking to a closet.

"You've got to be kidding," says Byers. "I've been part of some crazy plans with the two of you, but this one takes the cake. I am not in on this. They aren't even back to DC yet. Today is Saturday and they probably won't even be back into town until Monday. They are going to be under some serious security. There is no way that you will even be able to get anywhere near her."

"Frohike, he is right. Lets just wait until they arrive in DC. Meanwhile we'll hack into the the Las Vegas records and see if we can find out when they are arriving back," says Langley.

Frohike is sifting through the closet and comes out with a with a brown curly wig.

"What do you propose doing with that?" asks Byers opening a bag of potato chips.

"I'm coming up with a plan," says Frohike. "Whats Mrs. Scully's first name?"

"Maggie I think," says Byers.

"If you think you're going to pull off what I think you are going to try to pull off, you are plain nuts," says Langley. "Do you actually think anyone is going to believe that you are Agent Scully's mother? Besides, say you do get out of there with Scully. Everyone is going to think that her mom really did help her if you sign in with her name. Besides there is the question of ID."

"Like that has ever been a problem," replies Frohike. "Are you guys in or what?"

"I'll drive the getaway vehicle, but I am not putting on a dress," says Langley.

"I told you, I'm not involved. Besides, Scully isn't going to leave without Mulder, so its a huge waste of time," says Byers.

"I want my one phone call!," yells Mulder as a camera flashes in his face for a frontal mug shot.

"All in good time Mr. Mulder. We have to put you through the paperwork before we can allow you to do that." He turns Mulder sideways and shoots a side shot. Scully stands several feet away getting fingerprinted.

"Don't worry little lady. It comes off real easy," another officer says as he hands her a wipe for her hands.

"Its not the ink I'm concerned about," glares Scully. "Its my record. I need to repeat once again that we did not steal any credit cards. In fact we were robbed of everything but the very clothes on our backs." She stands aside as Mulder is escorted over to be fingerprinted.

"They're not going to believe you," says Mulder turning to look at Scully as his fingers are rolled across the ink pad.

Scully sighs. "Well if you are finished with me, could I please get my one phone call?"

"Sure ma'am right this way."

"Wait a minute. Scully who are you gonna call?" asks Mulder concerned.

"Obviously not the ghost busters, we're the ones in jail remember?" says Scully sarcastically.

"Scully? Are you blaming me for all of this?" asks Mulder as a wipe is handed to him.

"Well who else am I going to blame Mulder. How could you be so forgetful? The very first thing that you do when a credit card is stolen is call the company and report it. You do realize that your own credit cards got stolen too?"

"Yeah, now that you mention it you're right Scully. Have you thought recently where you left your purse?"

"Damn....in the car!," says Scully stomping her foot.

"I guess we make a great pair," says Mulder smiling.

"Folie a deux," says Scully as she is led away.

"A madness shared by two," whispers Mulder.

"Mom, this is Dana. I know you aren't home right now but I'm calling you from Las Vegas. Its a really long story Mom but you may have already heard that Mulder and I are in hot water. I just want to assure you that we did not do anything illegal, well not in this case but I don't want to get into that now. What I am trying to say is that we're in jail right now, but please don't worry. I am fine, Mulder is fine. They are going to be transferring us to DC within the next couple of days, but I wondered if you could give our attorney a call and see if he can do anything to speed up the process. I really love you Mom and I'm sorry for disappointing you. Dad would be so embarrassed." Scully starts to cry. "Whatever you do please try to keep Bill away from the tv and don't tell him that we're in jail." The answering machine beeps that the time is up. As she is about to hang up she hears a man's voice come on the line.

"Dana! Its Bill. What the hell is going on out there?"

"Bill, what are you doing at Mom's?" asks Scully.

"Tara and I are here. We are waiting for Mom to get home and we're all going out to dinner. Should I remind you that you would have been better off coming along with us tonight? Where the heck are you?"

"I'm in Las Vegas," says Scully sniffling.

"You're where?"

"I'm in Las....."

"I heard you the first time. God Dana that loser isn't with you is he?"

"What loser?" asks Scully defensively.

"Oh come on Dana! You know who I mean, that Fox Mulder guy. He is the reason that you're there in the first place. That sad sorry son of b**h got you into this whole mess didn't he? Wait until I get my hands on that arrogant pretty boy!"

"Bill, we were on a case in California and we just took a little side trip to see the sites. Its not Mulder's fault. We got robbed and the bureau overreacted because the card was missing. They apparently think we spent a lot of federal money. We'll straighten it out I promise."

"Its still on your record Dana. It will be a permanent marker on your identity. God Dana, Las Vegas....why in the world of all places would you want to go there for, and with Mulder? You could have come home and we could of had a barbecue in the backyard. Agent Mulder could have gone on an alien hunt by himself. Why would you do this to your family Dana?"

"I did nothing wrong Bill," says Scully. "I'm thirty-six years old if you remember. You can't treat me like a child anymore. You aren't my Dad."

"Dana, you sound like a defensive teenager caught with a guy that your parents have forbid you to see. Whats up with all of this? Oh my God, no! I've got it figured out. The arrest isn't the only permanent marker of this trip is it? You've gone and done it! You've married the jerk haven't you?"

"No, we didn't get married.....yet," says Scully.

"Dana, I'm glad you're in jail. At least it prevents you from making the biggest mistake of your life. How can you even think of marrying him? He's possessed with a mission that doesn't concern you. Its his first priority in life and you'll always be somewhere on the back burner. Frankly Dana I hate his guts."

Scully clenches the phone and bites her tongue as her brother vents his anger with her. Finally she can't take it anymore. "Bill, tell Mom I'm fine and I hope you choke on your dinner because I'm the only one in the family that knows the hymlic. Lastly, no one and I mean no one has the right to call Mulder a jerk but me. Understand!" She slams the phone down and turns around to face Mulder who has been standing there the whole time.

"Scully you think I'm a jerk?" asks Mulder sadly. "I don't blame you for feeling that way. I think I'm a jerk too." He stares down at his handcuffs.

"Oh Mulder, you're taking that ll out of context," says Scully taking his hands in her own. "I was talking to Bill and he can get out of hand. You know how it is, I was defending you."

"It would be easier for you if your family could accept me, but that's not going to happen is it?" he swallows. "Bill always said that you were my biggest defender and I was one sorry son of a b**h. Maybe he was right. Here I had tried to make up for our Bigfoot fiasco with a little side trip. I wanted to prove to you that yes, Fox Mulder could be a caring and even a romantic kind of guy, but did things turn out the way I had hoped they would? No. I caused you grief again." He pulls away from her and sits in a chair. He bends over and places his head in his hands. "I'm just bad news Scully. A normal life isn't in the cards for me. I think maybe we should reconsider this engagement thing. Its not what we really want. We're two lonely people looking for some stability to our lives and I don't know about you, but I can't provide that. I can't guarantee that some night that you are sitting at home waiting for me that I'm not lying dead somewhere. My life involves taking chances and no matter how much a perfect life looks appealing to me, my life's path has been set for me by others that have an agenda."

Scully blinks back tears as she kneels before him. "Mulder, don't do this," she begs. "Can you honestly say that you don't love me? Isn't that worth something to you?"

"Sometimes love isn't enough," replies Mulder looking up and seeing her stricken face. "Some choices are made to protect others, and that's what I'm doing. I've told you before to get as far away from me as you can. Go be a doctor while you still can."

"Mulder, I am still a doctor whether or not I'm with you," says Scully. "I choose to be with you because I want to. Not because I have to or am forced to, but because I need to. I need to be near you, please don't shut me out. You can't protect me by pushing me away. You're only punishing yourself further, because in the end I will die emotionally from your callous attitude towards our friendship, our relationship."

She places her own handcuffed hands on his knees. "We can work this out Mulder. If we quit, they win. How can you let them win?"

"To save you. I'm sorry Scully," says Mulder blinking back his own tears. "It doesn't matter anyhow. Our FBI careers are mud once we get back to DC.

"Mulder, to hell with the FBI. Do you honestly think that I care more about what Kersh and the others think than I do about you? The FBI is just a job. Mulder, you are my life."

"I'm not going to see you die Scully for any hollow cause of mine. Whether or not I'm in the FBI, I've been designated as a player in this war game and I'm not gong to see you become a casualty."

A guard approaches and clears his throat. "Come on Starbuck. Spooky has his own house to haunt down on cell block five. I'm taking you over to the ladies' wing." He takes her by the elbow and pulls her to her feet. Scully is led to the door and she takes one final look at Mulder who has his head in his hands again.

"Mulder, please don't throw away the last seven years. I love you!"

Mulder sobs as Scully is led away through the door. Another guard passes them leaving. He approaches Mulder and pulls him roughly to his feet.

"Crying for mama won't help boy," sneers the guard.

"My mother is dead and she probably would leave me here to rot anyway," says Mulder. "I didn't get my one phone call."

"Be quick about it," says the guard shoving Mulder towards the phone. Mulder picks up the receiver, placing it to his ear he pauses before he punches in a phone number. He waits for an answer as it rings.

"Lone Gunmen," answers Byers.

"Its Mulder, I'm in the slammer."

"We heard', says Byers turning to look at the tv behind him. "Hows Scully holding up?"

"She's as well as can be expected I guess," says Mulder pinching the bridge of his nose. "They've separated us."

"So whats the word? You coming home soon or what?" asks Byers.

"I don't know. They aren't telling us anything. I don't even know if they have set bail for us or not. I doubt that's going to happen though. My guess is that we'll be back in DC on Monday or Tuesday. So, I need you to be ready to post bail for me. Don't worry about the money. I can arrange that. I just need you to be the outsider."

"What about Scully? Should we post bail for her too?" asks Byers.

"Call Mrs. Scully and see if she is prepared to post it. If she's not, then I'll give you access to more money. I would prefer if they wouldn't depend on me though if it can be helped," says Mulder turning around and leaning against the concrete wall. He notices the guard tapping his foot. "I can't talk much longer. Call my bank and inform them of the situation. Have them contact me here and I should know more by then."

"No problem Mulder, but I have one question," says Byers slightly confused.


"Why wouldn't you want your future mother-in-law to be depending on you? She obviously is going to need support through this thing both emotionally and financially."

"Because things have changed', says Mulder quietly.

"What do you mean things have changed?" Byers turns as the door opens and Frohike and Langley enter carrying Macy's bags. He motions them over and then presses the speaker phone button.

"What was that?" asks Mulder suspiciously. "Is this a secure line?"

"Yeah, I just put you on the speaker phone. I'm doing some work and need my hands free," says Byers shrugging to his friends. "You didn't answer my question Mulder. Whats this new big change involving you and Scully?"

Frohike tilts his head and gives Byers a frown.

"I decided that the engagement is off. Its not the best thing for us. I can't let her be a target anymore. If the rest of the syndicate think that we are romantically involved she'll never be safe. I can't allow that......I won't let anything happen to her. I would rather see her happy away from me than receiving an immediate death sentence as a result of our marriage."

"Are you really sure this is what you want?" asks Byers slapping his forehead.

"What I want doesn't matter. Survival is what counts."

"Scully must be devastated. How did you tell her?" asks Byers. He turns to a fuming Frohike.

"I told her after we got fingerprinted. I heard her on the phone talking to Bill. She had to defend me again to him. that's when I decided that it was best that we didn't continue this any further. Scully's family has suffered enough because of me. They don't need a constant reminder for the rest of their lives. I'll admit it, she took it badly. It broke my heart to be saying such things to her, but I had to make it look realistic. She thinks that the last seven years have meant nothing to me."

"While you no good &^%@&," yells Frohike approaching the speaker phone. "You had no right to make Dana feel that way. Here she has been supportive of you every minute of those seven years. She has never left your side and has saved your life countless times, lied for you and risked her life for you and this is how you repay her. You throw her love back in her face and use your conspiracy as an excuse.? You are a weak, gutless and pathetic worm! You don't deserve Dana and if I wasn't so sure I'd lose, I'd kick your a**!"

"You're right," says Mulder. "You are absolutely 100% right."

The Lone Gunmen look at each other and look back to the speaker phone as they hear a click. Mulder has hung up.

Scully has been escorted to a cell. She is relieved of her handcuffs and the door slams shut behind her. She turns to watch the guard saunter down the cellblock swinging his keys around his finger. She sighs and turns to assess the situation. and is surprised to see a fat woman sitting on a lower bunk bed.

"Welcome to the clinker honey," she smiles. "My name is Marge."

"You've got to be kidding?" asks Scully reminiscing when Mulder had warned her about getting their stories straight regarding that vampire. He had said that she was as deep into the situation as he was and that her cellmate's name would be Large Marge. She wasn't about to test the nickname out anytime soon.

"What are you in for honey?"

"Alleged credit card theft," says Scully. "But I didn't do it. I work for the government and my fiancé....my partner forgot to cancel it. Unfortunately, our superiors don't believe us when we say that we didn't charge those things."

"Whats your name?" asks Marge shifting her weight on the bunk.

"Dana," replies Scully looking around and noticing a small barred window for the first time. She drags a chair over to it and climbs up. She peers out the window and is disappointed to see an empty courtyard. A couple of wooden picnic tables line the area with a couple of basketball hoops. She wonders if Mulder has had a chance to notice the hoops. Maybe he'll get to shoot a few before they leave. She turns away and climbs down.

"What are you in for Marge?" asks Scully sitting down on the chair.

"Oh, I hit my husband in the head with a frying pan. He deserved it though. Was cheating on me with my next-door neighbor. I should of suspected though. She was always coming over offering to help me do stuff. Then she would come over and ask me if I could send my husband over to fix something for her. Little did I know what he was really fixing if you get my drift." Scully presses her lips together and nods politely. "Well it didn't turn out too good because I hit him a little harder than I anticipated. He fell down dead and now I'm in here awaiting my trial for second degree murder. Couldn't make my bail as all my kin are poor as church mice. So, here is where I sit and bide my time." She turns and picks up a romance novel and opens it. "I don't know why I bother reading these trash books. Men never act like this in real life do they? They never come to the rescue when you are at death's door and defeat the villain?" She turns back to her book.

Scully swallows and thinks to herself about all of the times that Mulder had done just that. One near miss and she wouldn't be there alive today. She closes her eyes as she remembers nearly being beheaded by those townspeople. The sheriff in the headhunter costume had just been raising his machete when Mulder shot him. The look that Mulder had given her when he had freed her was heartstopping. He always did that. He got sentimental and protective when he finally realized how much danger she had really been in.

"So what do you do for the government? Let me guess, IRS?" says Marge turning the page of her book.

"No, I'm an FBI agent," says Scully coming back to reality.

"Really? That must be so exciting! You chase bad guys and go on secret cases and stuff?"

"Something like that," says Scully attempting to smile. "I work in a special division. there's only two of us and we have been fortunate in that we can be selective of the cases that we choose. Most cases find us, we don't find them."

"I don't understand. Tell me about it," says Marge.

"My partner and I we investigate paranormal phenomena."

"You mean like ghosts and monsters and stuff?" asks Marge amazed.

"Well, yeah," says Scully averting her eyes. "We study cases that have been unlovable due to unexplained circumstances. In order to learn as much as we can we usually go on field assignment. Although, often once we investigate into the case we find we can't come up with any concrete conclusion on our own. There have actually only been a handful of cases that we have been able to somewhat agree on a answer to. Which is pretty amazing since I've only worked on the X-Files for seven years now."

"X-Files? It sounds like porno or something," says Marge.

"If you told my partner that he would probably be flattered," smiles Scully.

"You ever been to Area 51? that's here in Nevada," says Marge.

"Yes, we've been there once, but the funny thing is I can't remember much of what happened there. One minute I was standing next to my partner and then it goes fuzzy. The next I'm reaching for his arm and telling him to get in the car. Some men stopped us so we didn't learn anything. You see my partner is a big believer of EBE's so that's why we went out there to investigate."


"Extraterrestrial biological entities," says Scully rolling her eyes. "Aliens. We look for aliens. Boy, this sounds really cheesy doesn't it?"

"No, it sounds like a kick, but I can't believe the government pays you to go chasing after little green men! No wonder there are only two of you assigned to this division."

"Well, according to my partner they're gray and not green and yes there is only two of us. There is always only two assigned. At different times we have been reassigned or separated, but our superiors eventually bring us back as we seem to do well together on this work."

"Was it just my imagination or did you first call your partner your fiancé?" asks Marge. "I mean I don't want to be nosy or anything, but if you are going to be my cellmate I want to know whats going on in the background."

Scully tears up. "I'm not ready to talk about it with anyone right now. We had decided to give protocol a kick in the rear and go for it. We admitted to each other that we have loved each other for most of if not for the entire time that we have been partnered together for. Now he has taken it back and wants to protect me from all of the baggage he comes with. He has a lot of inner struggles that he deals with on a continuous basis. I feel I can handle that, but there are others out there seeking revenge on us for the work that we do. I want to risk it and show the world how we feel . Mulder doesn't' feel that way. He can run off to Antarctica, or Puerto Rico on a whim and I have to juggle everything else while he troops to the ends of the earth. Oh by the way I'm also a forensic pathologist."

"You cut up dead people?" asks Marge making a face.

"You get used to it," says Scully. "My partner calls it 'slicing and dicing'."

"Is he in jail here too?"

"Yeah, I guess he must be in the mens' wing."

"You miss him don't you?" asks Marge

"Yeah, I do," says Scully looking down at the floor.

"One of the guards, Ricky comes in at 6:00 p.m.. He is a decent guy and if you tell him your circumstance he will deliver a note to him for you. He won't even read it."

"I don't know if Mulder would even read it," replies Scully sadly. "He is pretty anti-Scully right now."

"Mulder? Scully?" asks Marge confused.

"We call each other by our last names. Most agents do," explains Scully.

"You even call each other by your last names offduty?" asks Marge.

"Well yeah," says Scully. "It would sound odd for him to call me Dana all the time and he would never want me to call him by his. I already tried that once a long time ago and he quickly corrected me."

"Why, whats so bad about his first name? What is ?" asks Marge.

"Ah, its Fox," says Scully.

"Fox? that's a cool name and he doesn't want to use it? Ladies would really dig it if he did," says Marge.

"Well maybe its better if he doesn't," says Scully quickly.

"Why don't you write that note and Ricky will give it to .......Mulder or Fox when he comes in," says Marge handing her a pad of paper and a pen.

"I guess its worth a shot," replies Scully taking it. She takes them and pauses a minute before she writes a short note.

"I can't believe that after all this time of waiting to tell her how he really felt.....he broke up with her," says Byers.

"And you said there was never a chance for me," says Frohike picking up a Macy's bag and digging through it.

"What in the world did you two buy at the mall?" asks Byers. "I thought Electronic City was more your store."

"You aren't going to believe this," says Langley rolling his eyes. "He is determined to go through with this and after that phone call there will be no stopping him." He motions to Frohike pulling a woman's suit out of the bag followed by dress shoes, a bra and slip.

"You aren't really going to wear a dress to go break Scully out are you," exclaims Byers. "No one is going to believe that you are a woman. Can't you see that?"

"I'm trying to get in touch with my feminine side," says Frohike holding up the suit to himself. "Once Dana realizes how much I feel for her she will fall for me hook, line and sinker."

"Scully isn't going to fall for you," says Langley. "She has it bad for Mulder and she isn't going to look twice at you."

"He has ditched her one two many times boys. You leave it to old Frohike. The fair Agent Scully is going to be estatic to see me when I show up as she arrives in DC. I only wish I had time to get out to Nevada, but by the time I got there she may already be on her way here."

Byers roll his eyes. "This is not going to work and I hope to God that you still aren't thinking of participating in this," he points at Langley.

"I agreed to be the getaway driver and I don't have to wear a dress," says Langley.

"You don't have to wear a dress, but you agreed to wear this," says Frohike passing Langley a ladies' hat with a large flower and feather on it.

"I don't believe that you are going through with this," says Byers running his hand through his hair. I am not going. This is crazy." He turns away and sits down on the couch to watch a basketball game. He picks up a computer magazine. "You better practice walking in those heels before you go. You don't want to make a complete idiot out of yourself."

"I'll go change now and try everything on," says Frohike headed to the bathroom with his assemble. Byers is left with Langley.

"Love does strange things to people," says Langley.

"that's not love, that's stalking," says Byers. "Besides whats your excuse and don't tell me that you're in love with Frohike."

"Not even close," says Langley. "I just want to be able to say that I was once a getaway driver."

"That can go on your resume right next to ice cream truck driver," says Byers opening the magazine.

"Hey, you said that you wouldn't tell anybody about that," says Langley. Byers gives him a mischievous look.

Meanwhile in a warehouse nearby. "You've got to be kidding. One of those geeks is going to pose as a woman to break out Agent Scully?" says Krychek to his companion. "It'll never work."

"No, but if it does it will save us a lot of time and exposure," says his companion lighting up a cigarette. 'We want Agent Scully and what a perfect way of getting her. We don't have to make up an elaborate plan. We just have to steal her away from that dwarf when he breaks her out. This is brilliant."

"Did you hear Mulder say that he and Scully were engaged and now they're not?" asks Krychek. "Which reminds me I keep forgetting to ask you I want to talk about Marita."

"Not now," says CSM waving his hand. "We've got to keep listening in case these three stooges find out when Scully is arriving in DC. Its sad really. Mulder thinks that breaking the engagement is going to solve all of his problems and it doesn't. She may be his partner, but I'm not a fool. I know he loves her and she loves him. They would die for each other, but after finally admitting that they do love each other he will sacrifice the last shred of happiness he has for her. He may not be too happy when he realizes how unnecessary that is. We're going to get her anyway."

Mulder lays on his cot with his arms crossed behind his head. His feet are crossed as he contemplates his situation. How can Kersh seriously consider that him and Scully would stealing from the government? Although from what they have stolen from them they deserve a little shopping spree. He thinks back to seven years ago and how that little comment of "do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?" would cause such a huge impact on Scully's life. He had only wanted to shock her and maybe even tick her off a little bit. He had known why she had been there. "I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me," he had said at their first meeting. He hadn't trusted her, but she quickly won his trust. She was a victim as much as he. He should have warned her earlier. Told her to get out before any of the damage had been done to her family. Her abduction, Melissa's death, Scully's cancer and sterility was all a direct result of her association with him. He never could figure out why she chose to stay and take the punches as they came. She had a medical degree and despite her reputation as 'Mrs. Spooky' she had potential for promotion in the bureau. She would have only had to give the word and they would of pulled her off the X-Files onto something more challenging and glorifying.

Mulder closes his eyes and bites his lip. It had been one of the most difficult things he had to do in his life. After all this time to finally know that she loved him for himself and not for any superficial reasons as others had claimed in the past. Yes, he had to act like it would be a mistake and it wasn't what he wanted. It was the farthest thing from what he wanted. But by distancing himself he was protecting her. The bureau was apt to go light on her whether or not they were romantically involved, but if it could help her further by making her appear as a loner and not as a pair he would do it. Why did this have to happen now? Only another week or so and the final decision would have been made. It had taken him months to finally decide to go and do it, but he had and he had good feelings about it. Now it mattered little and if he didn't end up in jail he'd be lucky if he didn't end up homeless. He looks up as he hears a key in the lock of his cell. The door slides open and a guard walks in.

"Some dame in the women's ward wanted me to give you this," says the guard handing him a folded note. "There is a brief exercise period tomorrow morning or half an hour in the courtyard. You may get to see the little lady there." He gives a wink to Mulder and then turns away.

"Send it back," says Mulder holding it out and looking away. "I can't read this now. there's too many emotions going on in my brain for this."

Ricky the guard turns around. "You don't me to have to go back there and give that girl that note back do you? She's depressed enough without me going and telling her that you didn't even have the nerve to read it. God, I don't know what is the deal with the two of you, but I just brought her a food tray and she said she didn't want anything. I wouldn't want to be the result of her getting sick if I were you."

"Shes sick?" asks Mulder spinning around and eyeing Ricky suspiciously.

"Well, shes not sick.....yet," says Ricky. "But she will soon be."

"What do you mean? Quit playing mind games and tell me what is wrong with her," yells Mulder.

"Shes gone on a hunger strike," says the guard. "Read the note and see if she tells you why." He tosses Mulder the note which he catches. Ricky turns and exits the cell locking it behind him.

Mulder sits down on the edge of his bunk and glances down at the folded note in his hand. "Damn it Scully.....why are you so stubborn?" He unfolds it and something falls into his lap. He looks down and slowly picks up the cross dangling it from his index finger. He closes his eyes for a moment and then opens them to read the note.

Dear Mulder,

I don't understand why you are so angry with me. We have been through everything that a married couple could ever go through: sickness, health, separation, fights and happy times. The last seven years of my life have been scary, but they have been the most exciting of my life and I couldn't imagine them spent any differently. The best factor in the whole deal was I got to know you. Maybe you are sorry that you ever met me. I hope this isn't the case as it would make me very sad. The hardest times for me during the last seven years was when they separated me from you. Please do not shut me out. Its us against them Mulder, don't forget that. You may have lost faith in me for some reason, but I don't need your protection. I don't want to be sheltered like a china doll because I'm not. I wouldn't be where I am in my life if I was. I want to be where I am supposed to be...by your side. I still believe in us........

I love you.


P.S. If you want to talk I'll be outside in the morning.

Mulder folds the note and sticks it in his pocket. He holds the cross up before his face and studies it as the light reflects off it. Silently he unclasps it and puts it on. He centers it and drops it to his chest. Glancing at his watch he lies down again.

"I believe too Scully," he whispers.

She hadn't been sure that he would have wanted to meet her, but she was relieved when she walked into the courtyard and saw Mulder shooting hoops. She smiles as she sees him in his orange jail uniform that matches her own. She quietly approaches as he is about to shoot. "How about a little one on one?"

Mulder turns around. "Depends on who is asking." He smiles slightly and looks down. She notices the cross around his neck.

"I'm glad that you read my note."

"I don't know why you don't give up on me," replies Mulder looking back at her.

"I'll never give up on you Mulder. You know that."

He nods as he studies the basketball in his hands. "So what now? What do we do now? Go back to DC, go through a trial and hope for adjoining cells with the right of conjugal visits?"

"No, we go back to DC and we fight. We have to figure out a way to prove that we didn't make those charges. I think the Lone Gunmen will be able to help us with those details."

"I do have good news," says Mulder turning around and making a basket.

"Whats that?" asks Scully grabbing the ball as it falls to the ground.

"I just got a call from the Gunmen and they've already done a little tapping into the computers. It seems once we are back in DC we are eligible for bail. I've already made arrangements for the money transfer. So, we may actually have a chance at getting some information from the outside of a cell. I don't know how we are going to come up with a way of tracking down the real crooks, but I figure we need to write down a description. Maybe we could hope that rental agency will have some news on the car and prints can be lifted. We should put a description of your ring and maybe somebody will spot it a pawnshop. We've got to cancel your credit cards and I've really screwed up," says Mulder looking down. Scully makes a basket and then walks up to him. She wraps her arms around him.

"Mulder, we will win. Do you understand? You have not screwed up. We will find those men. Our future depends on it and I'm not worried about it if we catch the crooks. All I am worried about is waking up every morning to Large Marge and not you." She blinks back tears as Mulder enfolds her in an embrace.

"When this is all over Scully, things are going to change. Understand?"

"No, I don't Mulder. What do you mean?" Scully looks up at him with a questioning look on her face.

"Its not finalized yet, but I'll tell you everything once I'm sure," says Mulder kissing her on the forehead.

"Mulder, you're scaring me," says Scully. "Tell me now."

"No, when the time is right," replies Mulder smiling down at her.

"You said no more secrets Mulder."

"This isn't a secret, just a surprise," replies Mulder.

"Hey you two! Two feet away from each other at all times!," yells a fat woman guard coming over. "I see we've got a little romance going on here, thank God you two are being transferred in the morning. I don't feel like dealing with this right now." She grabs Scully by the elbow and starts to lead her away. "Tell your little boyfriend you will see him later."

"See you tomorrow Mulder," says Scully looking at him.

"We'll be home soon Scully," says Mulder looking at her and then pulling the cross up to his lips and giving it a kiss. She smiles over her shoulder as she is led away.

"Come on Romeo, its time for you to go too," says Ricky coming over and slapping Mulder on the back. He leads him back to his cell. Mulder lies down and contemplates his next move as he hums "Jailhouse Rock".

"Sir, how do you feel?" asks Kimberly as Skinner sits down at his desk.

"Not too good Kimberly, but I had to come back and straighten out this mess that Kersh has caused." Kimberly smirks which Skinner notices. "Don't comment on any of this Kimberly. I don't want your reputation hurt by what I am about to do."

"Whats that Sir?"

"I'm going to ask the Director to consider investigating Kersh for possible indiscretions."

"You won't find anything," says Kersh stepping into Skinner's office. "You would do anything to protect those two ghost chasing agents of yours. Well I'm here to tell you that it won't do you any good. They have been apprehended and are being held in custody in Las Vegas. I'm arranging for their transfer myself. They should be in DC tomorrow evening."

"Why are you doing this," asks Skinner accusingly.

"I'm not doing anything that any normal AD wouldn't do Skinner. I'm doing my job as you should be thinking about doing. You need to compile your list of interrogatory questions as well. I would suggest to you not being too soft on them. Things could turn difficult for you both personally and professionally."

"Are you threatening me Kersh," glares Skinner.

"No, I'm only thinking of your best interest Walter. You've invested over twenty-five years with the bureau. You don't want to waste all that on a couple of rebellious agents that obviously don't have any concern for the law?"

"Those rebellious agents as you so call them have saved my a** several times. You don't forget things like that," says Skinner looking down at his desk.

"I can't make you cooperate Walter, I can only advise you. I also advise you not to try investigating me. You aren't aware of where my loyalties lie. There are those in our government that won't appreciate your interference in this quest for justice, remember that." Kersh turns and leaves the office.

Skinner places his head in his hands and realizes that his hands are tied.

"What time are they arriving?" asks Byers pouring milk into his cereal.

"Six thirty Eastern time," replies Frohike as he makes notes on a pad.

"You're still going through with this?" asks Byers.

"John, I told you there is no way you are talking me out of this, so forget it," says Frohike. "Now will you please shut up? I'm trying to go over my checklist here. Lets see, vehicle, getaway driver, disguise, weapon..hmm."

"Weapon! If something went wrong you'll get ten years to life. Are you aware of the risk you'll be taking if you take a gun?" says Byers throwing his spoon into the bowl. Milk splashes onto Frohike's list.

"Now look what you've gone and done," yells Frohike. "My list is all smeared now and as for a weapon, I've got it right here." He pulls a gun out of his pocket and shows it to Byers.

"Melvin please don't do this," pleads Byers. "Let Scully take care of herself. She is not a fair maiden in distress, God she could kick your a** and you know it!"

"Hmm that sounds like something I might enjoy," says Frohike looking at the gun as he practices aiming it. "No, I think I'll hang onto this little beauty," says Frohike as he gingerly plays with the trigger.

"Will you stop waving that around," says Byers. "You're making me nervous!"

"Does this make you nervous?" asks Frohike aiming it at Byer's head.

"Yes! What the hell are you doing?"

"You know I'm getting pretty fed up with you Byers. Especially when you called me Melvin. That really sent me over the edge." Frohike continues to play with the trigger.

"Frohike, we can work this out. Just put down the gun and we'll talk about it. Matter of fact if you promise to leave the gun home I'll even help you rescue Scully if you are so determined to do it."

"Really Byers? You would do that for me?" asks Frohike.

"Yeah, of course of would little buddy," replies Byers wiping his forehead.

"Is that your final answer?" asks Frohike.

"Yes!," yells Byers.

"Sorry, wrong answer. Especially that little buddy part," says Frohike pulling the trigger.

Byers flinches as he feels something cold hit his face. No, its not a bullet but cold water. Frohike has just shot a watergun off in his face.

"You're going to be sorry for that Frohike."

"Yeah, well I guess we're even now because you've committed yourself to helping me." Just then Langley comes in.

"What happened to you?"

"I needed a little cooling off," says Byers glaring at Frohike.

"Langley do you still have that backup outfit that I was going to return to Macy's?" asks Frohike.

"Yeah, its in the closet behind you," says Langley. "But I told you that I'm not wearing any dress. That was the deal remember?"

"I remember that you refused to wear a dress, but I don't remember our new volunteer saying anything on the subject," says Frohike turning to look at an outraged Byers.

"No! Absolutely not! I am not dressing up as a woman, no matter what the reason is. I refuse!"

Fifteen minutes later:

"Byers I never knew that you had such nice legs," says Langley laughing.

"Shut up Langley," says Byers.

"You know hot pink is really your color," says Frohike. "I've got the perfect accessory to go along with it." He smashes a red wig over Byers head. "Too bad we don't know what Dana will be wearing. I could see you as a decoy."

"Can I at least look in a mirror please?" asks Byers angrily.

"Sure, be my guest," says Frohike pointing to a nearby mirror.

"Oh my God, I look like something from a cheap Las Vegas lounge act," says Byers.

"It could get worse," says Langley.

"How?" asks Byers turning around.

"We could take pictures," Langley replies as the flash goes off on his camera.

Mulder and Scully are being loaded into a paddywagon which will take them to the airport. They will be taking a direct flight to DC and then will be transported to the prison there.

"I always told you Scully if you stuck with me long enough we'd go places," says Mulder as he is helped into the back of the van.

"I was hoping for something more like Hawaii," says Scully as she too is helped into the van. Both of them are handcuffed from behind.

"You know Hawaii isn't a bad idea. I'd like to see you in a little grass skirt doing the hula," smiles Mulder as he sits across from Scully.

"Very funny," says Scully.

"Just another way to get my ya yas out," replies Mulder.

"So the guys are going to have the money when we get there?" asks Scully.

"I guess so. I haven't talked to them again. Byers called just before I saw you yesterday morning. I changed my instructions to make sure we had enough bail money for both of us. Your Mom has been informed of our situation and she should be waiting for us upon our arrival."

"At the jail," asks Scully in disbelief.

"Yeah, she insisted upon being there," replies Mulder looking away.

"This must be so difficult for her. I can't even imagine the embarrassment that I have caused her and Bill, oh God Bill. He is going to have so much to say," says Scully shaking her head.

"Scully stop it. Just stop it right there," says Mulder. The van is now on the highway.

"What do you mean?"

"Stop worrying about what your brother is going to say. I can't help it, but Scully your brother is a real idiot. He hates me, but does he take the time to really know me? No, he hasn't. All he does is complain about me and call me Spooky Mulder. I'll tell you one more thing Scully, he is not interfering in our marriage."

Scully smiles. "So I take it the engagement thing is on again?"

"If you think you can put up with me," says Mulder.

"Hmm, I think I'll I have to think about it a little more carefully this time around," says Scully.

"Scully?" says Mulder questionably.

"Well there are pros and cons that I should of considered before," says Scully.

"What are the cons?" asks Mulder sitting up straight and eyeing her with that intense look that borders between fear and annoyance.

"Well there's my family of course." Mulder looks really annoyed now. "And of course we both have our own lifestyles. You said your life is filled with darkness, but you haven't done anything to change that. Your apartment could be made very bright and cheerful, but you don't redecorate it."

"Whats wrong with my apartment? I like my apartment," says Mulder.

"And then of course there are those annoying habits of yours," says Scully looking up at the ceiling of the van.

"What habits," ask Mulder whining.

"You actually have to ask? Those sunflower seeds all over the floor of the trailer was a slight hint as to what our carpets would be like. I should have realized that that case at Arcadia Falls was a trial run. Toothpaste, toilet seat, empty orange juice container in the refrigerator, need I go on?"

"Scully, I don't know what to say. If that is all you can come up with then I guess I was right when I said you had a compulsive sense of neatness. I mean just because my place doesn't look like your place which I think looks like a model home that no one lives in. Its like you don't even feel comfortable sitting on the furniture because you are afraid of leaving a dent in it."

"And whats wrong with keeping a neat house?"

"Nothing, its just I don't want a showplace, I just want a place that you can live in and be yourself in," says Mulder. He turns to the guard sitting next to him. "Don't you agree? I mean does your wife have all these fancy pillows on the couch and she gets mad if you actually put your head on one?"

The guard chimes in, "Yeah, she says I'm going to get oil all over it from my hair. I mean whats a pillow for?" Mulder smiles and nods.

"See someone agrees with me. Now come on Scully what are the pros of marrying me?"

Scully tilts her head and thinks for several moments. "Hmm lets see. I guess it would save on gas."

"Save on gas? that's all you can think of?" asks Mulder his voice squeaking.

"Well I am always driving over to your place late at night. It would be a big help if we were living together. I wouldn't have far to go to meet with you. I mean we could actually review the X-Files over dinner or maybe even in bed at night."

"that's it Scully! You are making fun of me!," says Mulder. "She's making fun of me. Can you imagine that?" he looks at the guard.

Scully finally laughs. "Okay, you win. I am teasing you. One pro of marrying you would be that you would hopefully throw out your video collection and I would finally get to know your fish better as they would be moving in too."

"Oh come on. there's got to be a better reason than that," says Mulder as the van pulls up to the security section of the airport.

"Oh there is," says Scully as the guard takes her by the elbow and pulls her to her feet.

"Well? What is it?" asks Mulder looking up at her.

"The best reason would be because it would be wonderful. It would be wonderful being married to my best friend in the whole world and knowing where my G-Man was all the time." Scully smiles as she is helped off the back of the van.

"Now that's a good reason," gloats Mulder.

"Is this really necessary?" asks Mulder as he looks at each of the guards sitting on either side of him on the plane. Across the aisle sits Scully with a guard on either side of her as well. "I haven't seen this much security since they arrested the Unibomber, and we haven't even sent Christmas cards in the last five years. Right Scully?"

"Speak for yourself Mulder," replies Scully from across the aisle. She flips through a magazine, her handcuffs clinking in front of her.

"What? You sent Christmas cards? I didn't get one. Why didn't I get one?"

"Because I see you every day in the office. Why should I be sending you a card?" says Scully leaning over and attempting to look at him around the guards.

"Haven't you heard the Hallmark expression, "reach out and touch someone?"

"Mulder, that's an AT & T commercial, not Hallmark," replies Scully looking back at her magazine.

"Why can't we at least sit next to each other?" Mulder asks one of the guards. "I mean we're at 15,000 feet. Do you actually think we're going to make a break for it? That first step would be a real doozy."

"We've had our orders, but I guess it can't hurt. Just don't try anything and don't cause any undue attention to yourselves. There are other passengers on this flight and I'm sure they aren't going to appreciate the presence of a couple of fugitives," replies the guard as he gets out of his seat. He motions to the other guards and after a couple of awkward moments of musical chairs Scully finds herself next to a window with Mulder sitting next to her. One armed guard sits on his left and the other three sit across the aisle.

"What are you reading?', he asks her as she turns back to her magazine.

"Top ten reasons you can tell your man is insecure," replies Scully.

"Whats number one?" asks Mulder.

"Won't leave your side," replies Scully biting her lip from laughing.

"You're not serious," says Mulder straining to look at the magazine. "Whats number two?"

"Does not take your opinions seriously," says Scully.

"Now that's not true. I always take your opinions seriously Scully, its just I don't always agree with them. But that, is a two way street."

"Hmm I guess so," says Scully flipping the magazine closed. "So, what is the plan when we get back? Do you have a lawyer? Because my Mom already contacted mine and I'm sure that he would be more than willing to represent you too. Actually a united front on this may prove to be more effective than having dual representation."

"I plan on neither of us needing any representation Scully. I've already had Langley tap into the FBI database and he is doing a search for the real thief. It should be only a matter of days before our names are cleared. I'm just hoping that the thief left some fingerprints on the credit card slips that he signed. That may be our godsend."

"So you are saying that we shouldn't even bother building a case?" asks Scully looking at him amazed.

"No, I think we are going to work this all out. I was really beat down the day before yesterday, but after talking to you and then the Gunmen I feel invigorated and I think we can beat this thing. Actually I know we can beat this thing."

"Now that sounds like the Mulder I know ..... and love," replies Scully looking up him smiling.

"Did you here that?', he pokes the guard sitting next to him. "She loves me."

"I don't know why," replies the guard going back to the newspaper he is reading.

"Is that an abduction story? Can I have that section when you are done?" Mulder asks the guard.

"Shut up," says the guard.


"Yeah Scully?"

"I can't explain it, but you seem so bubbly since we left the prison. Is there something you had wanted to tell me? I mean you said that there was some big thing that you were waiting to tell me and we do have a couple more hours until we land. Do you want to talk about it now?"

"No, its not time yet," replies Mulder taking her hand in his. "And yes I guess that's the reason for me being so 'bubbly' as you call it, although I would call it more ecstatic than anything."

"Fine, don't discuss it," says Scully turning to her right and leaning her head against the window. She closes her eyes to take a nap. "We don't discuss anything anyway. What else is new?"

"I'll give you a hint. It involves paint."

"Paint?" Scully looks over and eyes him. "You are going to paint your apartment a different color?"

"Hmm not exactly, but you know a deep shade of blue would be kinda nice now that you mention it," says Mulder placing his chin in his hand and pondering the thought.

"Wake me up when we get to DC," says Scully closing her eyes again.

Mulder smiles to himself.

A black sedan pulls into the airport and parks in the pickup area. Walter Skinner gets out with two other agents.

"The local PD said they would come and pick up Mulder and Scully, but I said that I would take responsibility for them. I've already contacted Mrs. Scully that the bail has been paid. They're in our custody now boys and just because they're being accused of a crime there is no reason to take advantage of the situation," says Skinner as they walk toward the main entrance of the airport.

"Oh come on Sir, this is a great excuse for having a little fun with Spooky Mulder. He's always bugged me a little bit," says Agent Collins.

"Yeah, and the very image of Agent Scully in a pair of handcuffs is setting my heart aflutter, says Agent Randolph elbowing Collins.

"That, is enough," says Skinner stopping to open the door. He turns to them and says, "You are out of line agents. Remember how long you've been out of the academy. You start annoying me and background check duty is going to last a little longer than you originally anticipated." He glares at the two agents as he enters the airport with the two of them following close behind. Skinner stops to look at the arriving flight board and sees that they are arriving at Gate 17. They walk to the correct gate and he looks at his watch.

"We're early," says Skinner. "Its only 5:45 and they are due at 6:30. Go get lost and come back at exactly 6:25."

Agent Collins and Agent Randolph walk towards the coffee shop, Skinner sits down in a nearby chair and picks up a New York Times. Seeing a story about the increase in tourism in California he notices that camping is listed as one of the suggested activities. He sighs as he thinks of Kate. He hasn't thought of her over the last 48 hours or so that he hasn't seen her, but now he is wondering if he has been too harsh on her. Maybe after he drops Mulder and Scully at home he will give her a call to see how she is doing.

Despite Kersh's attempts it seems that Mulder and Scully have a good chance at coming out of this unscathed. Although the X-Files are in danger of being closed again. The Director had just suggested to him that afternoon that Mulder and Scully be reassigned to the drug enforcement unit to eliminate the ridiculous cost of the continuing with the paranormal investigation division. Skinner doesn't know how he is going to be able to tell them. He pulls out two small black rectangular transmitters and shakes his head.

"How am I going to tell them that until this is completely settled they are under house arrest?"

He looks up and sees a couple of women lurking around the telephone booths. One is a redhead with a hot pink dress and the shorter one is wearing a large hat and a turquoise suit. They finally turn and he looks right at them.

"God, what ugly women," he comments to himself. "Talk about wanting to draw attention to yourself. Could they have worn any brighter clothes?" He looks closer and is surprised to see that one of them has a beard. "Is that the bearded lady? No, it couldn't be." He gets up and starts to walk toward them.

"You fool! He saw us!," hisses Frohike. "I told you to shave that damn mustache and beard off! Now he is coming over here. Quick dart into the ladies room. He can't follow us in there." Frohike pushes Byers into the ladies room and they shut the door. When they turn around they see a woman at the sink whos mouth drops open when she sees them.

"What are you looking at?" says Frohike as the woman takes a paper towel and quickly wipes her hands. She tosses the paper towel away and cautiously scoots around them to get out the door.

"We can't stay in here all day," says Byers. "Someone is going to get suspicious and we're going to have to leave and Skinner is out there. What the hell is he doing here? I thought the PD would be picking them up."

"I guess because they're feds Skinner pulled some strings to give them preferential treatment," says Frohike adjusting his hat in the mirror. "I know what you mean its already 6:10 and we can't miss Dana's flight."

All of a sudden there is a knock on the door. "Ladies, I don't want to alarm you, but I am a United States Federal Agent and on the count of three I am coming in..one......," yells Skinner.

"Oh crap!," says Frohike looking around. "there's no where to hide. We are screwed." Byers has already run into a stall and shut the door. He steps up onto the toilet and waits.


Frohike takes Byers lead and does the same.

"Three!" The door comes slamming open and Skinner comes in waving his gun. He looks around and sees no one. "I know you are in here. Step off those toilets and come out with your hands up!" A pair of hot pink heels and turquoise pumps appear and the doors slowly swing open. Byers and Frohike come out with their hands up.

"I don't believe this," says Skinner slapping his hand on his forehead.

Chapter 21*: Parts 67 to 70

"that's the most ridiculous story I have ever heard," says Skinner after listening to Frohike and Byers spin their tale of how they planned on freeing Scully. "There isn't even a good reason for doing what you had planned. Agents Mulder and Scully are out on bail, but they are going to be held on house arrest until I can finish clearing them." He pulls out the two ankle transmitters and hold them up for the Gunmen to see. "You just finished telling me that you helped arrange the bail money. Why in heaven's sakes would you screw this up by trying to bust in here and seize Agent Scully? I could get you in really big trouble for this you know, but I'm having a sympathetic moment for the two of you." He stares at their outfits for a moment. "Just please go home and change out of those outfits. Mulder and Scully will be at their homes by 9 tonight, so if you want to see them or call them that's fine. They just can't leave their respective residences. The transmitters are already programmed. By the way where is your third amigo?"

"He's in the van waiting out front. He is the getaway driver," says Frohike.

"Lets go you two. there's only ten minutes before the flight arrives and the other two agents will be back by now." Skinner pushes the two of them out the door of the bathroom. "Go home. Go home now," Skinner says firmly as he watches them lope toward the main entrance of the airport.

Skinner turns to see Agents Collins and Randolph approaching. "Who in the world was that?" asks Randolph pointing.

"A couple of friends of Mulder's," says Skinner walking away.

"God, I knew things were bad with Mulder's lovelife, but I didn't think things were that bad," says Collins to Randolph.

Just then an announcement is made that Flight #110 from Las Vegas is approaching Gate #17. Skinner and the two agents wait patiently as the airplane taxis up to the gate and passengers disembark. The last people off the plane are Mulder and Scully led by the four guards.

"Quit shoving me," says Mulder glaring over his shoulder as he is stopped in front of Skinner. Scully doesn't say anything as she is led up to stand beside Mulder.

"That will be all gentlemen," says Skinner. "We'll take them from here."

He takes each agent by an elbow and turns them around. "Agent Mulder, Agent Scully. Its so nice of you to make an appearance again. I want to hear your story as soon as we get in the car and that means the entire story. What in the hell were you doing in Las Vegas?" Skinner's eyes flash at Mulder as he sheepishly looks at Scully.

"Sir, we were on our way to ........," begins Mulder.

"We were on our way to get lucky Sir," interrupts Scully.

"Lucky?" asks Skinner stopping and frowning at Scully.

"We went to Las Vegas to gamble Sir. It was my idea to go to Vegas, Mulder just wanted to go home and fill out our reports on the Bobby Smith encounter, but I used my charms on him and he reluctantly agreed," Scully lies as Mulder's mouth drops open at the deception.

"I'm really surprised at you Agent Scully. That is totally irresponsible of you. It sounds like something Mulder would do and I would never have suspected you of a closet gambler. What do you have to say about this Agent Mulder?"

"I'm as shocked as you are Sir," says Mulder giving a look at Scully as Skinner opens the door to enter the main parking lot. His look reads, 'You don't have to protect me.' Her look reads, 'I will do what I have to.'

"We did not steal any credit cards Sir," says Mulder. "Agent Scully lost her suitcase and we rented a car. After we stopped at Caesar's to eat at the all you can eat buffet we were approached by two suspicious characters and all of our money, credit cards, car and jewelry were stolen," says Mulder.

"How in the hell did they sneak up on you? You're FBI agents. Weren't you paying attention?" asks Skinner.

"Well I wasn't really feeling all that well," says Mulder as Skinner stops them next to the black sedan.

"They got everything of yours then?" asks Skinner.

"Yeah, everything," says Mulder as Skinner opens one of the backdoors.

"Apparently they didn't get all of your jewelry Agent Mulder," Skinner motions to the cross around Mulder's neck.

"Oh. Agent Scully gave it to me for safekeeping," says Mulder. "She was worried that her roommate Large Marge would wrestle her for it." Scully raises her eyebrow at Mulder's lie.

Scully and Mulder are put in the backseat with Agent Randolph in between. Skinner and Collins get in the front. The car pulls out onto the main highway. They don't see a gray Cadillac pull behind them.

Skinner pulls their car up in front of Mulder's apartment building and gets out. He opens the backdoor. "Your ride ends here Mulder," says Skinner. Mulder glances over at Scully. He mouths the words, "I'll call you," to her and gets out. Skinner takes him by the arm and leads him up the front steps.

"I don't have my keys," says Mulder as he reaches for the building superintendent's button. He presses it and a male voice answers.


"Its Fox Mulder. I've locked myself out of my apartment."

"Some excuse, I saw the reports Mulder. You're lucky I'll even let you in the building. I'll meet you upstairs and open your door." The buzzer rings signaling the front door is open. Skinner grabs it and they walk inside and take the elevator up to the fourth floor. The superintendent is there with the key and stares at Mulder and Skinner as they approach Apartment #42.

"Agent Mulder is currently under house arrest," says Skinner. "This ankle transmitter allows him to move freely about this building only. He can go down and get the mail and most likely will get as far as the street curb outside, but that's it. If he does then the alarm goes off at headquarters and he'll be a moving target."

The superintendent opens the door. "I always thought it was a mistake renting you this apartment. there's always something going on here. I mean lets see there's been at least two or three dead guys found in or around your apartment, then there was that weirdo writer that got the hots for your partner. She almost died in there and then the whole building went wacky after someone decided to drug the water to get to you. I thought it was a good thing to rent to an FBI agent. I would make everyone feel safer, but now I'm starting to wonder. I'm going to have to look up when your lease is up." He starts to walk away.

"And a good day to you too," says Mulder sarcastically as Skinner pushes him in the apartment. Skinner shuts the door and pulls a key out of his pocket. He undoes the handcuffs and puts them in his pocket.

"I'm sorry that its come to this Agent Mulder," says Skinner motioning him to go and sit down on the couch. He pulls out the transmitter and kneels before him. "This wasn't my idea. The director insisted that until you and Agent Scully are cleared it was best to take all possible precautions.

"Don't try to pretend you're on my side Sir, because you aren't my prince even though the shoe fits," says Mulder angrily as Skinner clicks the lock on the transmitter that he has put around Mulder's right ankle.

"Mulder, I'm doing this for you. Don't you understand? If you go out there and make a mess of the situation its going to look worse. Leave the investigation to me. We will find who did this. Understand?"

"Understand? How can I understand that I'm out on bail for a crime that I didn't commit and I'm locked up in my apartment with a dog alarm around my ankle?" asks Mulder. "What about my cases? How am I going to buy food? Go to the bank. Cripes, I can't even go to the video store."

Skinner gives him a funny look. "You'll be provided with all of the necessities. As I said before this is only temporary. Agent Scully will be in the same situation as you, but she has family that come and visit her. I can understand your frustration at being isolated, but there's always the telephone and the internet. You can call whoever you want to, but I wouldn't discuss the case with anyone besides myself and Agent Scully. Speaking of, I should go down and check up on Collins and Randolph. They are such pains." He goes over to the window and glances down into the street to look at the car. He frowns as he sees something strange. His frown doesn't go unnoticed by Mulder. He approaches Skinner from behind.

"What is it? What do you see?" he asks.

"I have to go downstairs immediately," says Skinner dropping the blinds and jogging to the door. He leaves it open as he runs down the hallway. Mulder glances out the window to see their black sedan sitting where they left it parked. The two back doors are open.

"Scully!," he yells as he drops the blinds and runs for the door. He takes the stairs and runs out the front of his building out onto the sidewalk. He runs about twenty feet away from the building towards the car when a sharp pain runs up his leg. He has been shocked from his transmitter. He stops and grinds his teeth as he sits on top of the wall that surrounds the apartment building. He pauses for only a moment and continues on approaching the vehicle.

"What happened?" he manages to say to Skinner as he grabs his leg from another shock.

"Collins and Randolph are unconscious. It looks like they've been drugged with some sort of gas."

"Where is Scully? They took her didn't they?" he asks Skinner accusingly. "How many times are they going to use her against me?" He cringes again from the ankle transmitter. "What the hell did you put on me? This thing is giving me electrical shocks. Let me tell you Skinner shock therapy is not going to help me. If you don't remove this thing right now so I can go after Scully I'm going to do it myself!" He sits down on the sidewalk and puts his head in his hands.

"I'll go after her Mulder. You have to stay in the apartment. Understand? They will use this against you. You get involved with a big confrontation with Smoking Man during this pending case and you are history. With the law, with the FBI if Kersh has anything to say about it.

"The hell with the law and FBI! Don't you understand Sir? Without Scully I have nothing and I wouldn't want to go on without her. You have got to let me go Sir. I can find her, I'm the only one that can." Mulder looks pleadingly up at Skinner.

"Agent Mulder, I could lose my job," says Skinner looking away. He looks away. and then walks around the car to shut the doors of the car. He approaches Mulder again staring at him on the ground. "Like I said Mulder I could lose my job, my pension, my reputation."

"And I could lose my lo....., my friend, my partner," says Mulder angrily as he slaps his hands on his knees and looks down to the sidewalk.

"I would suggest you go back inside Mulder and get some rest. I'll take Collins and Randolph to the hospital and call headquarters to set up a search team for Scully. You know what you have to do." Mulder whinces again as another shock comes and he sticks both index fingers between his teeth and bites down to stand the pain. He looks up to see Skinner getting into the car and closes his eyes in frustration. He opens his eyes to see the car pulling away and he glances down. Resting on his knee is the key to the transmitter.

Skinner sits in the waiting area of the hospital. Collins and Randolph are going to be okay, but they are going to have a major headache for the next couple of days. Skinner reaches for his cell phone and calls Kimberly at headquarters. Despite the late hour of 11 PM he knows that all the stops have been pulled out regarding the disappearance of Special Agent Dana Scully.

"Have you heard anything?" he asks her.

"No Sir, Agent Kersh has put together a search team, but there haven't been any demands for ransom. Unfortunately, its been pretty quiet here. Will you be returning soon?"

"Yes, arrange for a car to take Agents Collins and Randolph home Kimberly. They are just being released from the hospital and will need transportation." He hangs up and starts to put away the phone but stops. He stares at it a moment and then reaches in his pocket for a business card. He takes a deep breath and dials the phone number.

Howie answers the phone. "Lazy Acre Trailer Park!"

"Hi Howie, its Walter Skinner. Is Kate in?"

"She is here, but I can't guarantee that she will want to talk to you," says Howie. "You hurt her pretty badly. She is a very sensitive woman Mr. Skinner and I don't want her feelings getting hurt again. So, if its just the same to you I would suggest that we forget that you even called here."

"I know I hurt her Howie. I feel badly about it. I don't think the two of you quite understand the pressure that I am under right now. Well, my job is stressful and I can't begin to explain the situation that I'm in. Agents Mulder and Scully are very special to me and Kate unintentionally put their lives and careers into jeopardy by speaking too freely to a fellow AD. He has been trying for years to discredit their work and get them dismissed from the FBI. I don't know if you have seen the news lately, but they've been accused of charging some personal expenses on a federal credit card. They were robbed and now I'm even more concerned because after their arrival in DC Agent Scully was kidnapped."

"Kidnapped?" asks Howie. "Who would do that to Miss Scully?"

"Like I said Howie, there is a lot you don't know and I've got agents working around the clock on this."

"Hows Agent Mulder taking all of this?" asks Howie.

"Not very well I am afraid," says Skinner. "He never takes these situations well anyway. She is his partner after all and they have a special bond that no one can really understand, or interfere with."

"So I noticed," says Howie. A door slams in the background.

"Is that Kate?" asks a hopeful Skinner.

"Yeah. Kate, do you want to talk to Walter Skinner? He has some upsetting news about Agent Scully."

Kate comes to the phone. "Oh, Walter I am so glad you called. I was torn whether or not I should call you, but I chose not to. I thought maybe that you wouldn't want to talk to me as I guess this situation with Agents Mulder and Scully is all my fault."

"Its not your fault Kate. It was just a coincidence. The agents got robbed in Vegas and apparently Kersh thought that it was them charging things and he put out an APB on them. They were arrested and then brought to DC where bail was arranged. I was forced to put them under house arrest in order to protect them from falling into any more traps, but I was too late. When I was busy dropping off Mulder at his apartment Scully was taken."

"Who would want to take her?" exclaims Kate.

"I told you before Kate, there are government men who will do anything to stop Mulder from finding the truth. They constantly are using Scully to get to him and this time I think something major is going to happen. I can just feel it in my bones."

"So Agents Mulder and Scully told you all about going to Vegas?" asks Kate. "Is it official?"

"What? Is what official?" asks Skinner as Collins and Randolph walk slowly out of the emergency room. They weakly put their suit jackets back on as they wait for Skinner to get off the phone.

"Ah, the case they were working on?"

"What case?" asks Skinner. "They told me they went to Vegas to win big. Scully even said that it was her idea which I think is a lie. She is protecting Mulder, like she always does."

"that's not the real reason," says Kate.

"I just knew it," says Skinner. "They were on a case without permission weren't they?"

"Yes," says Kate.

"Okay, give it to me. What was the case? It better not be any zombies this time."

"I just asked if it were official, because Agent Mulder said they were going to Vegas because the King was alive," says Kate.

"Kate, how soon can you be to DC," asks Skinner quietly.

"Well its 8 PM PST. I probably could get a flight out tomorrow morning. I might be able to make it to DC by 2 or 3 EST," says Kate flirtatiously.

"Book a ticket and I'll pay for it," says Skinner. "I miss you Kate."

"I miss you too Walter. See you tomorrow. I'll call you with the exact time that I will arrive."

"If I'm not there just leave it on my voice mail or tell my secretary, Kimberly," says Skinner. "I can't wait to see you."

"Until tomorrow then," says Kate.

"Tomorrow," says Skinner as Kate hangs up.

"Way to go Sir," says Randolph slapping him on the shoulder. Skinner gives him a glare. "You're out of line Randolph. Lets go get you back to headquarters. Someone will take you home from there. I need to go to a quick briefing on the progress on the disappearance of Agent Scully, then I'm going home. I need some sleep after all of this. Before we leave though I need to ask you one thing. Did you see anything at all?"

Collins and Randolph look at each other. Collins speaks first. "I saw a silver-gray Cadillac pull up beside us. There were two men in the car. One was about 35 years old with dark hair. He was driving. He got out of the car and approached us. I didn't think anything of it, but he sprayed a sweet smelling gas into the open window. I could't concentrate on anything. Everything was black."

Randolph nods. "I looked over at Agent Scully and she was out before I was. The dark haired guy stepped back from the car and opened up the trunk. The last thing I remember is the other guy lighting up a cigarette in the passenger seat."

Skinner nods. "Smoking man," he replies.

"I don't know Sir, all I know was that he was an old guy with a cigarette," replies Randolph.

"Lets go boys," says Skinner. He walks towards the exit. "Mulder was right," he says quietly to himself. "They're using her against him again."

Scully slowly awakens and realizes that she is in a trunk of a car. Her head is pounding and she can't concentrate. She is tied up and gagged. All she can think of is 'why' this is happening and when will it all end. Memories of Duane Barry come to her and she prays that she isn't headed toward being abducted again. She doesn't think she can handle that again and she knows Mulder couldn't. The car stops and she wonders what will happen next.

Inside the car Alex Krycek turns to the CSM. "I'm going to fill up with gas and then go buy a drink. Do you want anything?"

"Pick me up a pack of Morleys," says the CSM tossing a five dollar bill to Krycek who gets out of the car and puts the pump on automatic. He enters the store and picks up a Gatorade. He approaches the counter to pay and glances out the window. CSM isn't looking in that direction. "I also need a pack of Morleys. Do you have a payphone?" The clerk points to the back of the store after giving Krycek the cigarettes and his change. Krycek glances again at CSM before going to the back of the store. He waits for a woman to answer.

"Marita? Its Alex. The plan is all set. You know what to do. Our destination is Arlington. Its time to put a stop to all of this."

"Alex, be careful. If he even suspects," says Marita.

"No, he won't know what hit him," says Krycek. "Then we can finally be together." He hangs up the phone, grabs his Gatorade and heads out to the car. After replacing the gas cap he gets in the car.

"What took you so long Alex?" asks CSM suspiciously as he takes his Morleys.

"There was a long line," says Alex as he takes a swig of Gatorade and starts the engine of the car.

In the trunk Scully struggles to shift her position. Her feet are going to sleep and she is surprised that no one has bothered to check on her. 'I've got to escape', she thinks to herself. 'Mulder can't rescue her because he is under house arrest.'

After unlocking the transmitter and throwing it into a storm drain Mulder dashes back to the apartment building. After dealing with the superindent over the intercom again he races up the stairs slamming the door of his apartment shut. He makes a beeline for his bedroom and pulls open the top drawer of his dresser. Grabbing his extra gun he pulls out the clip and looks at it. He shoves it back in and feels under his extra socks for the extra that he always hides there. Just then the phone rings and he grabs it. "Scully?! Are you all right?'

"Fox? Its Maggie Scully. Do you know where my daughter is? I'm here at her apartment and Mr. Skinner said that he would be dropping her off here. They have yet to arrive and I'm getting worried. Are they still there with you?"

"Mrs. Scully, Dana has been taken.......again," says Mulder. "I'm going after her right now."

"Do you know where she is?" asks Mrs. Scully in a frightened tone.

"No, but I know someone who will," says Mulder. "Mrs. Scully I will find her and I promise you this....that this will be the last time that your daughter is ever taken from you.....or me."

"Just find her Fox and bring her home," she says as Mulder hangs up.

He walks into the living room and looks around trying to think if there is anything else he may need. His badge had been given to Skinner at the airport from the guards. He reaches for a Knicks sweatshirt that is laying on the couch and quickly pulls it on. Its 11:30 PM and he has no idea where he is going to start looking for Scully. He starts to reach for the phone to call the Gunmen to assist with the search, but the phone rings first.

"Scully! Are you all right?" he yells again.

"Agent Mulder, this is Marita Covarrubias. I need to speak to you. Is this a secure line?"

"Yes," says Mulder immediately. He doubts if his answer is true, but he is willing to take the chance if it involves information regarding Scully's whereabouts.

"I understand that you have experienced a loss recently and I think I can help you with that."

"Drop the guessing games Marita and tell me where Scully is," says Mulder dropping down on his couch.

"C.B. Spender has her," says Marita. "They are presently heading toward Arlington Cemetery. His family has a crypt there. He is angry Agent Mulder and he is dying. You don't want to anger a dying man. He has given up on you joining the project and before he dies he wants to do something to hurt you. Something that will cause you pain for the rest of your life."

"He is going to do it isn't he? He is going to kill Scully," says Mulder standing slowly.

"Yes Agent Mulder, but I can assure you he will not. It is very important though that when you go you are not armed. You say trust no one Agent Mulder, but this once I ask of you please trust me."

"Why should I?" asks Mulder.

"Because we both want the same thing," replies Marita. "We want him dead so that we may go on with our lives. We both want love and that's why it has to end. Remember, Arlington. Get there, but don't interfere with the plan." She hangs up.

Mulder hangs up and races out the door after shutting the door. His car is still stored at the airport so he hails a cab and gets in.

"Arlington Cemetery and step on it," says Mulder.

The cabbie nods after giving him a strange look.

After dropping off Collins and Randolph, Skinner enters the a large conference room where a debriefing is taking place. He takes his seat next to AD Kersh and flips open his notebook. The Director is presently speaking and turns to Skinner nodding his acknowledgment of his arrival.

"I'm happy to report that about an hour ago we were able to establish the identity of one of the muggers that apparently stole the credit card in question and about half an hour ago he was apprehended forty miles west of Las Vegas. He is presently cooperating with the authorities and has already devulged the name of his accomplice. Therefore, I can safely say that Agents Mulder and Scully are exonerated on any wrongdoing. They are no longer subject to house arrest and all charges are dropped. Now, I understand that a new situation has arisen which AD Skinner will fill you in on." He nods to Skinner and leaves the podium.

Skinner arises and gives Kersh a smug look as he goes to the podium. Approximately two hours ago I was dropping off Agent Mulder at his apartment. I had Agents Collins and Randolph with me as backup. I left them in the vehicle in charge of Agent Scully while I took Agent Mulder upstairs affixing his transmitter to his person. I glanced out the window at one point and to my dismay realized that something was wrong as both backdoors of the vehicle were standing ajar. I raced downstairs and found Collins and Randolph unconscious from apparently some sort of gaseous toxin. I immediately took them to the hospital where we were assured that they did not receive any lifethreatening or long term results. Agent Scully however was missing from the vehicle and as of this hour there has not been any demands for ransom or declarations of responsibility. I feel frustrated as I don't know where to turn. I can only hope that something will turn up soon. That is all I have at the moment." He turns to leave the podium.

"Where was Agent Mulder during all of this?" asks Kersh from his seat.

"He was under house arrest. I left him upstairs in his apartment where he was supposed to be," replies Skinner looking him squarely in the eye.

"Agent Mulder did not question you when abruptly left his apartment? Wasn't he concerned over Agent Scully's disappearance, or did you bother to tell him?" continues Kersh flipping open his own notebook.

"I told him that I had to go downstairs. I didn't elaborate on why. Now that this credit card situation is all cleared up I suppose I will go back to his apartment and give him the bad news. I am sure that as soon as the transmitter is off he will head up the search. I won't doubt he will want to the SAC in this case."

Kersh nods. "Well, I suppose you'll want to leave right away. that's all I have....for now." Everyone starts to get up an leave the meeting. Skinner starts to walk by Kersh when he feels him grab him by the arm. "Something stinks here Skinner and I'm going to tell you that I'm going to find out. Don't think I won't."

Skinner pulls his arm out of Kersh's grasp and glares at him. "Go to hell." He walks away. He smiles as he now realizes that tomorrow is Wednesday and Kate will be arriving. He suddenly becomes ashamed of himself that he is thinking of himself when Scully is missing. He decides that the only way to avoid suspicion is to go to Mulder's apartment, although he knows he won't be there.

After dropping off Collins and Randolph, Skinner enters the a large conference room where a debriefing is taking place. He takes his seat next to AD Kersh and flips open his notebook. The Director is presently speaking and turns to Skinner nodding his acknowledgment of his arrival.

"I'm happy to report that about an hour ago we were able to establish the identity of one of the muggers that apparently stole the credit card in question and about half an hour ago he was apprehended forty miles west of Las Vegas. He is presently cooperating with the authorities and has already devulged the name of his accomplice. Therefore, I can safely say that Agents Mulder and Scully are exonerated on any wrongdoing. They are no longer subject to house arrest and all charges are dropped. Now, I understand that a new situation has arisen which AD Skinner will fill you in on." He nods to Skinner and leaves the podium.

Skinner arises and gives Kersh a smug look as he goes to the podium. Approximately two hours ago I was dropping off Agent Mulder at his apartment. I had Agents Collins and Randolph with me as backup. I left them in the vehicle in charge of Agent Scully while I took Agent Mulder upstairs affixing his transmitter to his person. I glanced out the window at one point and to my dismay realized that something was wrong as both backdoors of the vehicle were standing ajar. I raced downstairs and found Collins and Randolph unconscious from apparently some sort of gaseous toxin. I immediately took them to the hospital where we were assured that they did not receive any lifethreatening or long term results. Agent Scully however was missing from the vehicle and as of this hour there has not been any demands for ransom or declarations of responsibility. I feel frustrated as I don't know where to turn. I can only hope that something will turn up soon. That is all I have at the moment." He turns to leave the podium.

"Where was Agent Mulder during all of this?" asks Kersh from his seat.

"He was under house arrest. I left him upstairs in his apartment where he was supposed to be," replies Skinner looking him squarely in the eye.

"Agent Mulder did not question you when abruptly left his apartment? Wasn't he concerned over Agent Scully's disappearance, or did you bother to tell him?" continues Kersh flipping open his own notebook.

"I told him that I had to go downstairs. I didn't elaborate on why. Now that this credit card situation is all cleared up I suppose I will go back to his apartment and give him the bad news. I am sure that as soon as the transmitter is off he will head up the search. I won't doubt he will want to the SAC in this case."

Kersh nods. "Well, I suppose you'll want to leave right away. that's all I have....for now." Everyone starts to get up an leave the meeting. Skinner starts to walk by Kersh when he feels him grab him by the arm. "Something stinks here Skinner and I'm going to tell you that I'm going to find out. Don't think I won't."

Skinner pulls his arm out of Kersh's grasp and glares at him. "Go to hell." He walks away. He smiles as he now realizes that tomorrow is Wednesday and Kate will be arriving. He suddenly becomes ashamed of himself that he is thinking of himself when Scully is missing. He decides that the only way to avoid suspicion is to go to Mulder's apartment, although he knows he won't be there.

Chapter 23*: Parts 75 to 77 WARNING: Happy ending, but to those who would never want to see the agents leave the FBI for a more normal lifestyle….you may not want to read this last few sections.


The gray Cadillac pulled into Arlington Cemetery. The CSM directs Krycek until they come upon their final destination. Krycek stops the car and cuts the engine. "Isn't this a little extreme?" he asks CSM. "I thought you only wanted to scare Mulder, but now you want to kill Scully for real?"

CSM lights up another cigarette and reaches under the seat for a flashlight. "Agent Mulder has had enough chances at joining our group. I'm dying and I want one of my last memories to see the pain and torture in his eyes when he realizes that his partner is really dead. Not just missing, not just sick, but really dead. Stone cold dead." He opens the door of the car and gets out. Krycek gets out as well.

"Where does this leave the colonization? If you're dead and Mulder has lost his reason for living what will happen to the rest of us? Or don't you care?" accuses Krycek as the two of them stand in front of the trunk.

"Alex, I don't give a damn what happens to the world or to you for that matter," he calmly replies. "Now lets just get this over with and we'll part our ways. I couldn't do anything about colonization if I wanted to. I thought Mulder was the key to the vaccine, he wasn't. I subjected myself to that operation and where did it leave me? I'm dying and there's nothing anybody can do about it. My family is gone and there's nothing to live for anyway. I thought at least one of my sons would of wanted in on the project, but I was wrong. Jeffrey was a mama's boy and Fox....well Fox doesn't want to accept who he really is or where he really belongs." He glances over to the mausoleum with the name SPENDER on it. "Sad thing is he will now and it will all be too late." He motions to Krycek to open the trunk.

Scully blinks back at the bright light that is flashed into her face from the flashlight and cringes when someone pulls her out of the car. She is thrown over a shoulder like a sack of potatoes and can't see anything for a while until the beam of the flashlight reveals a gravestone. Her eyes go wide in panic as she realizes where she is and has a good idea why she is there. 'They're going to bury me alive and Mulder won't have a clue where I am. I'll be missing for eternity and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.'

CSM and Krycek walk to the mausoleum entrance and CSM opens it with a key. They enter the cold stone building, their footsteps clicking across the floor.

"Put her down here and help me move the front to the vault Alex," says CSM with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Alex sighs and glances at the vault in the wall and nods reluctantly. "Mulder is going to have our a**es for this. I'm as good as dead too." He reaches for one end of the heavy marble front to the vault and stops when he sees the engravings. "You are more sick than I thought you were. You've obviously had this planned for a long time." They start to pull away the thick marble slab.

"My family is all here, my parents, Cassandra and Jeffrey. Its only appropriate," grunts CSM as they lower the slab to the ground. He then turns to Scully.

"I said I always liked you Agent Scully, its a shame that you had to get involved with all of this, but this is the end now. You'll have eternal peace now." He reaches for her and she looks with horror at her soon to be tomb. CSM and Krycek force her to her feet and the two of them get her into the vault. She squirms viciously, but she is no match for them in her bindings. The light fades away as the stone is replaced. Despite his devious past Krycek can't help but feel sick as the last thing he sees is Scully's panic stricken blue eyes as the slab is put into place.

"Its all over," says CSM turning toward the door and walking toward it. "Lets go, it will be first light soon and we'll be lucky to avoid any maintenance workers."

"You're right old man, it is all over," says Krycek pointing a gun at CSM who turns around. His face is expressionless.

"Go ahead Alex, pull the trigger if it will make you happy. There is precious little in your life that does. Nothing is going to change by killing me, I'm already dead. I'm a marked man that can't escape."

"You're wrong about nothing in my life that makes me happy Spender. You know who makes me happy? Marita makes me happy, but for three years I have been trying to get you to allow us to finally get married. You said, 'No', because it would compromise the contacts that we are allowed due to her position in the United Nations. Well, I'm here to tell you that we're through with you and the project. I wish I could wait until you were dead for us to finally live the life that we deserve, but I can't." He walks toward CSM and puts the gun to his head. "Take your last drag, because this is the end old man."

CSM does take a drag and we hear a shot ring out through the cemetery. Krycek looks down at CSM's body and wipes the gun off with his handkerchief. He places the gun in CSM's hand and turns back toward the vault. There is no way that he can move it himself. It would take superhuman strength. He knocks on the marble and puts his mouth against the cold stone.

"Agent Scully, its Alex Krycek. I have to leave you now, but I promise you, I vow to you that you are in good hands. Life is worth living and do not give up for love is the key to your survival. To everyone's survival." He slaps his hand against the stone again and dashes out of the mausoleum hopping over the dead body of CSM on the way out.

Once outside he runs to a cluster of trees where Marita is waiting with a motorcycle and a helmet. She hands him his helmet. "Its done?"

"Its all over," replies Krycek. "there's only one more thing to do." He pulls out a remote control from his pocket and glancing over his shoulder he detonates it. The Cadillac explodes in mass ball of shooting flames. He puts on the helmet and hops on the motorcycle. As he adjusts the controls Marita gets on behind him wrapping her arms around him. They pull out onto one of the main paths where they pass a cab entering the row. Marita hides her face as Krycek salutes the cab as they pass.

Mulder sees the flames of the car shooting everywhere and the next thing he knows he sees a motorcycle quickly passing him. The driver salutes him as the blond woman on the back averts her face.

"Stop here!," says Mulder. He jumps out of the car and instructs the cab driver to wait for him. He dashes past the burning car to a mausoleum with the SPENDER name engraved into it. He would have tripped over the body lying in the doorway if it hadn't been for the flashlight lying on the floor next to him. He picks up the flashlight and his mouth drops open with shock at the realization that Smoking Man is dead. He steps over the body and looks around. Panic is setting in. Scully is not here, could she have been in that car? Is she dead now because he was only a couple of minutes too late? This was what he had feared the most, being too late just one time. He shines his light around the vaults and sees Cassandra's and Jeffrey's graves. He is about to turn to investigate outside when one of the vaults on the other side catches his eye.



Beloved Son, We will not be parted one from the other -





She would die for him, but could not bring herself to love him -

Horror sets in at the realization of what he sees. He slams his hand against the marble. "Scully! Do you hear me?" He puts his ear to the marble and he detects a strangled cry that is hardly audible. "I'll get you out of there? Do you hear me?" He runs out to the cab. "Do you have a crowbar?!"

"Yeah, but what the hell are you doing? Are you some kind of lunatic? I'm going to call the cops understand? You're grave robbing aren't you?"

"Just give me the damn crowbar! My fiancee is in there and she has been buried alive by that guy that just fled on that motorcycle!" Mulder grabs the cabby by the collar in anger and desperation. The cabby realizes that Mulder means business and quickly gets out and rifles though his trunk. He holds up the crowbar and Mulder grabs it. "I may need your help, come with me and don't ask any questions about the dead guy on the floor. I'm an FBI agent and you won't be asked any questions about it." The cabby wipes his forehead as he follows Mulder to the mausoleum and he stops dead in his tracks when he sees the body. "Just don't look at it!," says Mulder angrily pulling the cabby through the door.

He walks up to the vault and inserts the crowbar into one of the grooves. It moves slightly and he pulls it out and then does the same for the other side. After ten minutes of backbreaking labor he throws the crowbar aside and looks at the cabby. "Grab that end and when I tell you pull it out. Its going to be heavy, but she is in there and she is alive! One, two........three.....go!"

They lift the slab and lower it to the ground slowly. Mulder grabs the flashlight and illuminates the inside of the vault. His heart nearly stops when he sees Scully's pale face, her eyes closed. She is gagged and tied. He fears the worst until he sees the rise and fall of her chest. He reaches in and brushes the hair out of her eyes and removes the tape from her mouth.

"Scully? Can you hear me?" he asks her. Her eyes flutter open and she squints from the light.


"Yeah, its your prince, sleeping beauty. Let me help you out."

He lifts her out and sits her down on the ground. He unties her and massages her wrists and ankles to try to get the blood flow to return to normal. She moans as she feels the needle like sensations running through her arms and legs.

"Are you going to be all right," he asks her.

"I'll be fine Mulder," she replies.

"Don't give me that 'I'll be fine' crap Scully. You almost died, do you understand?" She nods and looks down. He kneels next to her and pulls her face up to look at him. Tears run down her cheeks.

"I'm sorry Mulder. I don't want you to see me cry. I'm fine, really." He pulls her into his embrace and kisses the top of her head. "I'm going to take you to see your mother, she must be absolutely sick with worry about now." He turns to the cabby. Call the police and report the body. I need to take her home to Georgetown.

Scully frowns as Mulder picks her up into his arms. She wraps her arms around his neck and looks down to see CSM's body as Mulder steps over it. "He's dead? He is really dead Mulder?"

"It's all over Scully. It's all over," says Mulder as he carries her to the cab.

Three weeks later at an informational meeting called together by the Director:

"We're glad to see that you are feeling better Agent Scully," says the Director. "We're looking forward to seeing you return to active duty."

"Thank you Sir, I'm feeling much better," says Scully looking at Mulder. He takes her hand and squeezes it for reassurance.

Kersh gives Skinner a questioning look and Skinner shrugs.

"The is the first time that I've been able to express to you...to both of you how sorry I am for the mix-up regarding the entire credit card issue. I urge my AD's to investigate every avenue and I can assure you that AD Kersh was only following my orders. I am only more sorry that your incarceration led to an opportunity for one of your enemies to abduct you. I commend you both on your bravery and Agent Mulder I congratulate you on your fast thinking in saving the life of your partner," continues the Director.

"I had some help," says Mulder reluctantly. Krycek and Marita haven't been seen in three weeks. His theory is they have fled to Mexico to be together. The death of CSM had been ruled a suicide based on his terminal illness. His grief had come to a climax upon visiting the graves of his son and wife and he couldn't take it anymore.

"AD Skinner has just finished his Californian vacation and I understand that congratulations are due him," says the Director.

Mulder turns to Skinner in surprise.

"Yes, Agent Mulder Kate and I are engaged. She has sold the trailer park to Howie and she is moving to DC to be with me."

"Congratulations Sir! that's great news," says Scully beaming at him.

"Enough about me agents, when are you going to be going back to work?"

"Um that's something I.....we need to discuss with you or rather all of you," says Scully looking at each of her superiors before looking sideways at Mulder. "We've had a slight change of heart recently and think maybe we aren't ready to pursue the X-Files or at least the way we used to."

"What are you trying to say," interrupts Kersh.

Mulder pulls an envelope out of his pocket and nervously taps it against his knee as he looks at Scully. He tosses it on the table in front of the Director who picks it up and stares at Mulder questionally.

"We're resigning Sir," replies Mulder his voice cracking.

"Both of you?" exclaims the Director.

"Yes," replies Scully softly.

"Why?', asks Kersh.

"We've decided to investigate other avenues," says Mulder reaching in his pocket and pulling out a one carot diamond ring with three smaller stones on each side. He holds up the ring in front of his superiors and says, "One for each year that I've been assigned to my partner. The first six years were great, full of adventure and full of death defying cases. The last year we've learned a lot and been closer than ever before. I've learned that life is too short and I've decided to move to Greenwich, CT to live in my Mom's house. I inherited it upon her death. I'm going to teach Parapsychology at Yale and Agent Scully has agreed to come with me, as my wife." He turns to Scully and puts the ring on her finger.

The AD's and Director looked totally shocked, but Scully doesn't give them a chance to respond. "I'm going to be teaching pathology part time there too, actually we're both going to teach part time. Mulder?"

He reaches into his pocket again and pulls out an envelope. "You'll all be getting one in the mail, but I wanted to give you yours in person Sir. I'd just like to add that you know I could never totally give up on investigating the paranormal firsthand." He motions to the Director to open up the envelope. He pulls out a wedding invitation for a July wedding and a business card falls out with it. After reading over the invitation he glances at the business card. It says:

Mulder & Scully-Mulder

Investigators of the Supernatural/Paranormal

"If Its Spooky, We'll Find It"

"This is your final decision then?" asks the Director.

"Yes," says Mulder and Scully together.

"I'm sorry to see you leave, but I wish you all the best. You two deserve it after so many devastating things happening to you." He stands which signals everyone else to do the same. He extends his hand to Mulder and then Scully. "Good luck."

"Thank you Sir," says Mulder smiling. He glances at Skinner who is chewing his lip nodding. Skinner is trying hard not to laugh. Kersh is sulking.

The agents go down to their basement office and discuss their future for a while. "Now I know what you mean about painting Mulder. That house definitely needed painting. Don't think that you're going to paint it blue though. I think a nice shade of yellow would be nicer," says Scully wrapping her arms around his neck and smiling.

"Yes......dear," replies Mulder grinning. He bends down and kisses her. Just then he hears an envelope be dropped into the bin outside their door. Mulder walks toward the door. "Did you mail all of the invitations?"

"Yes, my mother and I spend three days working on them. They are all mailed."

"All of them," asks Mulder returning with a thick interoffice envelope.

"Yes....all of them," winks Scully. She walks over to see what is in the office envelope and her mouth drops open when Mulder pulls out the teal teddy with a note attached.

Mulder and Scully,

Thought you might want this returned to you for the honeymoon.

AD Skinner.

They look at each other and burst out laughing.

"Care to model this for me Agent Scully?" asks Mulder.

"I've got a newer one at home that I think you'd like better," says Scully as she leans up to kiss him again.

"Tommy! You got some mail," a woman's voice calls to her son. He rushes inside from playing in the yard.

"Yippee! No one ever sends me mail," replies Tommy excitingly as he rips open the envelope. He frowns at it before asking, "What is it Mommy?"

"I don't know how they found you, but they did. Its a wedding invitation to Fox and Dana's wedding. Fox remembered to invite you."

"Fox who?"

"The guy with the big nose on the plane ride to California," replies his mother reluctantly.

"Oh, now I remember. I knew he really liked her. He said @#$^^," says Tommy.

"Tommy don't you ever say that word again! Understand?"

"Yes Mommy."

The End

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