Title: There’s Something...Different About This Case...
Author: Insomniac4
Author's page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/414274/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Romance/Mystery, MSR...the only kind there should be
Written: 07/20/2003
Words: 15738
Disclamer: I don't own any characters. If I did I would be really rich.
Rating: PG-13

Summary: another X-File, this time in Las Vegas. Mulder and Scully investigate a case of a possible abduction, find themselves in a haunted hotel room, and eventually confront their feelings for each other.

This story does not include: (and I promise!)

~ Mulder having nightmares

~ Scully taking bubble baths

~ Children of any kind

~ Scully's mother

This is my first fan fic. Isn't insomnia great! I hope at least one person reviews it, I would like to know if I should continue with the story....or if I am curing another person's insomnia...

As Agent Dana Scully walked into the office she shared with her partner, he immediately bombarded her with a "Good morning Scully, we have an X-file!" She sighed as she put down her coffee...not even a chance to sit down and there was already a case to solve...well at least try to solve, as she would attempt to explain what can't be explained rationally and Mulder would make outrageous claims which often would turn out to be the case. "It seems that last night two men in rural Nevada were admitted to the hospital with severe cases of hypothermia, and they claim to have been abducted".

"Mulder! We can't just go off on trips every time some backwoods hick claims to have seen a light in the sky! I won't go with you!" Scully exclaimed, irritated at her partner's stubborn insistance on the existance of extra-terrestrials. She didn't mind if he believed...she just wished that he wouldn't keep dragging her into these things. She was wishing for a more professional case than this.

"Hear me out, Scully! How could two men, who were at the time on a camping trip outside of Las Vegas, on a night that was around 90 degrees, come down with a case of hypothermia?"

Scully sighed. Here we go again, it's time to reason with him, she thought. "Well, perhaps there was a lake around? I ...I don't know Mulder, how?" she finished lamely. She knew then she was going to Nevada, without a doubt.

Mulder gave her a triumphant look and a smile. "Or maybe they just got stuck in their ice cooler? No, I've heard of similar cases from abductees, who claim that experiments were being done on them...and some of these people have had documented cases of hypothermia after the abduction took place. And what really makes this interesting is that one of these men is Harry Bellows, a noted survival expert who lives in Las Vegas. And believe it or not, Skinner actually has friends, and this man is one of them. So we have the go-ahead to take the next plane to Las Vegas. This is one gamble we're taking that's actually being approved of!"

"Ok Mulder, I'll go now to pack...But if I end up losing a lot of money, I'm blaming you...I never told you I was a compulsive gambler, did I?" Scully said sarcastically.

Mulder smiled inwardly at this rare moment of humor his partner displayed. She was always so stoic, so determined and professional. He took great amusement from teasing her, joking with her, trying to make this more human side of her come out...but she almost always played the part of the put together, perfectly composed FBI agent whose mind was on the scientific side of matters, and who would probably die if she ever actually saw one of the aliens he believed so strongly to exist. As she left the room, he sat down and stared at the door she had closed behind her. He spent some time looking through the case file, but his mind wasn't on it. Now was the time he could cautiously allow himself to think about her...every time he did so he had the same feeling as he did when he was 9 years old and had discovered an old Playboy magazine in the basement...peeking through the pages for only a moment, not daring to get lost in the pictures, and running back upstairs feeling guilty and confused..

She made him feel like that, confused. Of course she was beautiful, he begrudgingly allowed himself to think. Everyone with eyes could see that. Nothing wrong or strange with thinking that...simply an observation. It meant nothing...did it? No, he was her partner, and they had been working together for 5 years now. He didn't want to ruin the relationship he had with her. She was the most important person in the world to him, the only one to stand by him, to believe in him, to-

Mulder jumped up, his heart racing, guilt in his eyes when the door suddenly flew open. "Mulder, I'm ready. Let's go." Scully quickly told him, not even bothering to enter the room. He grabbed his jacket and already packed suitcase, muttering some lame joke about the weather in Nevada, and how hot it would be compared to the relatively cool spring they were having in Washington D.C.

He took a secret delight in sitting next to her. You would think that it would be an old story now, sitting that close to her, countless times they've taken car trips and airplane rides to far-off states in pursuit of an investigation. But the satisfaction he felt never went away. He didn't even really notice it now, until the conversation stopped and he was staring out the plane's window. But he didn't feel close enough. He wished he could put his arm around her, touch her arm, something. Anything. But wait...he didn't dare continue this train of thought. It would take him somewhere he didn't think he could go. He just couldn't, it wouldn't be right. She probably only saw him as a pure platonic partner. As Agent Fox Mulder. Never Fox Mulder, man who dreams about her at night. Never Fox Mulder, man who would die for her but never admit it to himself.

She was happy to be there on the plane with him. Every trip with him held the same pleasure of his mere proximity to her. She didn't know quite why but it made her feel...safe and content to have him so near. Like he would take care of her, like nothing would go wrong with him by her side. She laughed at herself inwardly. As a matter of fact many, many times have things gone wrong with him by her side. And what was she doing thinking these thoughts anyway? Not healthy at all...he was her partner and as far as she could tell, the only thing that got him hot was the thought of seeing an actual extra-terrestrial. And she felt mad at herself for not maintaining the independent attitude she always had. She could take care of herself, she didn't need anybody.

But if she did need somebody, it would be him. And only him.

" You must be joking" Scully exclaimed at the skinny hotel clerk who was meekly looking up at her from his glasses. "Only one room available in the whole entire hotel? How is that possible? This is Las Vegas!"

"Ma'am, Sir, please let me express my apologies for the inconvenience...but there is a large convention in town and all rooms have been booked. The same applies for all of the hotels in this area. This happens to be our busiest time of the entire year...I really am sorry. At least the room is a double." He typed the keyboard in front of him, as if the two people in front of him had already agreed to take the room. He had been here long enough to know that where there was a room in Las Vegas this time of year, there would be a boarder, or two. Sometimes more who snuck in. But this particular room...

"We'll take it" broke in Fox Mulder. He was impatient to make a trip to the hospital to interview Harry Bellows and his companion. He didn't care about his accommodations at this moment.

Scully made an exasperated noise with her breath and looked at Mulder, who wasn't paying any attention to her. He didn't seem to mind having to share a room. In truth she didn't either...in fact she was a bit excited at the prospect. They had shared rooms before...never sleeping on the same bed, but it was always exciting somehow. God she hoped she brought a cute pair of pajamas, and not some old tee shirt and shorts like she usually wore to bed. But then she thought, What am I thinking? He's my co-worker! It doesn't matter if my pajamas are cute! Annoyed at herself for thinking that, she grabbed her suitcase just as Mulder was reaching for it and rushed for the elevator.

Mulder and Scully sat outside in the visitor's lounge after having interviewed Harry Bellows' partner, Stan Holmes. He was also suffering from a case of hypothermia, but seemed to be recovering well. He had told a story that the two FBI agents had heard many times...he was awakened during the night by an intense light...went outside to look and ...violà, woke up the next morning on the ground, shivering, not remembering a damn thing. Mulder hoped that his companion would tell them a bit more...their story was just so...usual. Normally he was more enthusiastic about abduction cases, but with this one, the only thing that held his interest was the hypothermia, and the fact that Skinner knew this Harry fellow. He thought about how awful the name Harry was, and spent the next 15 seconds imagining what it would be like growing up with that name.

"You may see the patient now" a sterile looking nurse informed the two bored looking people sitting on the uncomfortable seats.

Mulder jumped up, his reverie broken, and looked at Scully. She didn't appear very interested either. But she never did. Smiling, he told the nurse thank you as she led them to Mr. Bellows' room.

He was tan, tall, and muscular in a wiry sort of way. But he appeared pale beneath his desert tan, under a blanket, hooked up to IVs. He smiled weakly as the two agents walked in. He gave Scully an even bigger smile as they went through the introductions. "So you two know Skinner, eh? Nice guy, we went camping once...but that's not what you're here for. So I'll just get right to the point. No use beating around the bush, eh? Anyhow, me and my pal Stan are both very much into camping in the wilderness...nothing like a man pitted against nature. So we're asleep in our separate tents, about 50 miles outside of Las Vegas, and the night was very quiet. I was asleep, as I said, until I was awoken by Stan crying out my name. I open my eyes and I thought I went blind for a second, I couldn't see anything. Then I realized it was very intense light all around me. I unzipped my tent, somehow thinking that a snake had entered Stan's tent and he was shining a light on me, but the next thing I knew, I was lying face down on asphalt, and I felt very numb. Good thing a passing motorist saw us two, because apparently we both woke up with hypothermia. I feel ridiculous, me, a survival expert, letting this happen. But Stan insists it must have been a UFO that came and took us, so I called my friend Skinner up there at the FBI see if he could stick a couple of his men on the case, eh? Didn't know he's send such a pretty lady too..." Harry winked at Scully, whose face remained as expressionless as it did since he first started to talk. Mulder glanced over at her, feeling glad that she had made no response to the man. He told Harry that they'd get right on it and would check on him the next day.

Back at the hotel, in their room, Mulder and Scully sat at the table there going over the details of the case. "Let's just go home, Mulder, this is pointless. We have no witnesses, no evidence, nothing. Let's just go." Scully complained as she reached over to turn the air conditioning up.

Mulder frowned at her and replied, "Listen Scully, these men apparently don't know that they were picked up a mere 15 miles outside of the city limits. How did they get 35 miles away from the campsite? They had been driven to a certain location and then hiked the rest of the way. They were not near a roadside at that location. And they without a doubt have hypothermia. And what about the light? This isn't something we can just attribute to their imaginations."

Scully sighed and reluctantly gave in. "I agree Mulder. It is rather strange. We'll go tomorrow and check out their camp site...everything should still be there. We have the location and tomorrow we'll just—" she broke off with a yawn. "It's 3 in the morning Mulder. If we're not gonna gamble we might as well go to bed". Instantly she regretted saying that. She had forgotten that they were sharing a room. She blushed slightly, hoping he didn't think she was insinuating anything.

He looked at her for what seemed to be a few seconds too long. "All right, it is late. You use the bathroom first, I want to look at a few more things in this file first." Scully stood up and looked down at him. He wasn't looking at her. He appeared to already be lost in his reading. Without a word she went to her suitcase and unzipped it. Glancing over just to check that he wasn't looking, she grabbed her things. Damn she had brought a sexy nightgown. She must have grabbed it in her haste to pack...she was wishing that she had brought the ugliest , most un-sexy thing to wear now. For some reason she didn't comfortable wearing that in front of Mulder. She was afraid of...something. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. Suddenly she felt shy. Rushing into the bathroom she took her time entering the shower. Her thoughts drifted to how cute Mulder was...yes he was really, really cute...and he had a nice ass...she quietly giggled to herself as she thought that. What a ridiculous thought.

She put on the nightgown and flipped her red hair into a towel. As she opened the door she was startled to see Mulder standing there, various toiletries in his hand. He didn't seem to notice the gown she was wearing. He glanced at her, smiled, and wished her a good night. She nervously smiled back and wished him the same, slowly pulling back her covers as he shut the bathroom door and started the shower. See Dana, what you wear in front of him is no big deal. And why would it be. He doesn't have any feelings for you...she felt somewhat sad and depressed at the thought, as if she was in love with him somewhere deep inside of her. So what if I am, she thought. And what if I'm not. She couldn't think about him anymore, it was driving her crazy. And so was this heat! She pulled back the heavy covers and kept the thin one on top of her, pulling it up to her chin. She was still feeling shy about Mulder coming back to the bedroom and seeing her in her sexy black gown.

Mulder closed the bathroom door and blindly turned on the shower. Was she really wearing that gown to sleep in? Did he really see her in that? He felt like he was moving in slow motion. Now was not a good time to get excited about it...he had to go back in there and sleep with her in the same room. The bathroom smelled like fragrant soap. She must have brought her own soap to the hotel. Women! Mulder opened the little bar of soap the hotel has wrapped and waiting, and entered the still wet and warm shower. She was just in here a minute ago, he thought. Imagine if...no he had to stop imagining things like that. Not good. But oh he wanted her so bad! Not just in a physical way, but he had grown to appreciate everything about her...everything...he rushed to finish his shower. He just wanted to lie in bed and know that she was next to him. Well in a sense anyway... they did have separate beds.

He saw the lights in the bedroom were still on, and he glanced at Scully. She was turned to the wall, lying in her bed with a sheet all the way up to her chin, and appeared to be asleep. He turned away, feeling guilty for looking at her. He felt like he was invading her privacy that way. He turned off the lights and walked blindly to his own bed, wearing a tee shirt and boxers. He lay down on top of the covers and stared at her in the darkness. He couldn't see a thing, but he could still imagine her. He wondered what would happen if he went and lay down in her bed, put his arms around her, kissed her slowly...she would probably slap him. But that would be a slap he would enjoy getting...it would be the next day he would regret, having to see her mad at him for acting so emotionally. He ran over all the times he got to hold her in his head...but almost all of those times she had been miserable about something, and his embrace had held compassion, comfort. He longed to give her the embrace he dreamt about so often...just to hold her and know that she didn't mind...above all , he didn't want her to mind...

Scully was awake, listening to him breathe. What was he thinking about? Was he already asleep? That was unlikely, as she knew he had insomnia, and his breathing patterns hadn't slowed yet...she turned over and stared at him in the darkness, wondering about him. She felt like she was so close to him but yet so far, forgive the cliché. There must be a mile separating the two beds they lay on. She felt alone, empty. She wished he would just come over and lie down with her. And she thought about how there was a man in the room with her, in the dark...a man that she cared deeply for and was admittedly attracted to. She got asked on dates from time to time but she never accepted...she always thought about Mulder and and what he would say about each guy. And in her mind he never approved...

She was half asleep when her bed moved.

It actually had moved a bit to the left...or had it? Her eyes opened wide as she thought about that. She must have been dreaming, how could her bed move? But she knew what she felt. And she knew it when she felt it again, a slight shift to the left. She was feeling very frightened now, but as always, swallowed it and put on a brave persona. Scully sat up in her bed, feeling very vulnerable, and softly called Mulder's name. She still couldn't see a thing, it was so dark in the room. The curtains were a very think, dark material, so the lights of the city couldn't creep in. "Mulder!" she cried again, not feeling the bed move any more. He grunted and she knew he had been asleep. Feeling a lump of fear in her throat, she jumped out of her bed and in an instant was on his. "Mulder! My bed moved! What is it!" she felt around for him on the large bed and found him. She touched some part of him, but couldn't tell what. He was warm and now awake. "Ooh Scully is this a dream?" he teased as he felt out in the dark for her, reaching her waist. "Mulder, don't laugh, but I swear I felt my bed move twice. Would you mind turning on the lights?"

He was wide awake now. Scully was sitting on his bed, pulling the covers over herself. He sighed at being asked to leave it. He got up and walked blindly over to where the light switch was. There was something in his way. "What the-" indeed it was Scully's bed, now slightly angled so it was a bit in the pathway to the light switch. It hadn't been there before. Getting serious he rushed to the switch and flipped it on. She lay in his bed, knees pulled up, holding a sheet around her and looking a bit scared. He noticed the bed had indeed moved. Concerned, he got on his knees and peeked under. But it was one of those beds that had a low base to it, so low that there wasn't any space underneath the bed. He lifted up the mattress and checked. Nothing. He examined the floor and there was still nothing...just marks left in the carpet of where the bed had been before. He quickly scanned the room for intruders, and finding nothing, examined the bathroom. Nothing. He checked the deadbolt of their door and it was indeed secure. Turning back to Scully he gave her a confused glance. He was at a loss of how to explain it. He struggled to move the bed back to it's original position and then went to turn off the light.

"Mulder! Why did you turn off the light?!" Scully cried as she felt him jump into his bed, bumping into her a bit.

"There's nobody in here Scully. I don't know why or how your bed moved. Maybe we have a ghost in your bed." He taunted mischievously. He was surprised when she didn't argue with him. But he knew she had had some encounters with ghosts that she grudgingly had told him about before. He thought she had a real fear of them. Turning towards her he said more compassionately, "It's Ok, Scully. I'm right here, and we both have our guns. Nothing is going to happen to you." He received what felt like a jolt in his heart when she said hesitantly, "I think I'd like to sleep in this bed tonight Mulder, if you don't mind". But he then realized she meant switching beds with him. Well he wasn't about to sleep on a haunted bed, and he wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to sleep in the same bed as her either. "Oooh no Miss Scully, I'm not going to sleep on some ghost bed. I guess we now know why this room was available, huh?" he grinned in the dark and put his arm around her. He hoped he wasn't touching her somewhere he shouldn't. He didn't want to get her mad. She surprised him by putting her knees down and embracing him back.

"Things like that scare me, Mulder." She whispered, still in his embrace. She felt tears come to her eyes...it had terrified her. Her, an FBI agent! This was ridiculous. She scolded herself for acting so stupid in front of him. But...he was holding her, and he didn't seem to mind. But, angry at herself for acting so weak in front of her partner, she pushed away from him and turned her back. Not wanting to have him think she was angry at him for embracing her, she mumbled, "It's so hot in here". Mulder grunted in response, and hidden in the darkness, frowned. He cursed himself for putting his arm around her. She was a professional woman who didn't seem to need any consolation at the moment. He had hoped when she first jumped in his bed that she was making up the story that her bed moved, and that this would finally be the night that his feelings (feelings?) for her would be expressed. It was so difficult to lie still there with her on the same bed. Things never seemed to happen like they did in those movies that weren't his. Except on his side of the boat....he highly doubted that she was also turned on by the fact that they were in the same bed. But it was still slightly enjoyable for him. He silently thanked the ghost in the bed, if there actually was one.

Morning came, and Mulder awoke to his partner touching his shoulder and whispering something to him. Faint light was coming in through the dark curtains. "mmmm, Sculllly..." he murmered.

"Mulder! Did you get up last night and move my bed?"

He glanced over at her bed and saw that it had moved again. This was really strange.

"No Scully, I didn't. but what do you think about trying to find a different hotel room for tonight?"

She smiled at him, relieved at his suggestion. But she was still spooked about the bed. Unusual occurances seemed to follow them around.

Sitting at an Elvis-themed restaurant a block from the hotel (Mulder had insisted on eating there) Scully suddenly broke their silence.

"I just thought of something...isn't it a bit strange that both Harry and Stan were 'deposited' along a road? In that area of desert, roads are pretty scarce. And they had originally been camped far off any roadway...now if they were taken by extra-terrestrials, what are the chances that they would be dropped off on the pavement and not in the desert somewhere? I think that they were returned from wherever they were taken by actual men, Mulder. It just makes more sense."

Mulder listened thoughtfully. He usually felt a bit disappointed when she came up with an explanation or theory that he couldn't debunk, but this time it was different. Nothing had really drawn him to this case. There had been no marks on the men , other than their hypothermia. And that was unusual for actual abductees and people who claimed to be abducted. He felt that both men were telling the truth...But what was the real truth?

Mulder and Scully left the Elvis-themed restaurant and headed towards the local precinct to do a little background checking on the two men who claimed to have abducted, after which the local PD would drive them over to the camp site to check for any possible evidence left behind by the abductors. Scully was tired of this case and believed there was nothing to it, especially nothing involving extra-terrestrials. Her partner, on the other hand, was thoroughly enjoying himself, looking happily around at the neon lights that dotted the city's landscape. Neither of the two agents had ever been to Las Vegas before this case. He was hoping to get it cleaned up quickly and spend a night checking out the casinos...not so much to gamble, but so he could pretend he had a normal life, and was simply on vacation with his best friend...the auburn haired FBI agent. He wished he could pretend they were a couple. Arcadia had been so much fun.

Reaching the police station the agents quietly discussed the case as they waited to speak with the head detective in charge.

"Mulder, have you considered the possibility that this 'abduction' might only be a simple case of robbery? We should check to see if either men had anything taken from them."

He turned to look at her with a thoughtful expression on his face. "Well that would be some elaborate theft, wouldn't it...I doubt either man had many valuables on their person, they were camping after all...and they were miles off the road. What thief is going to go so far out of their way to mug two men camping in a desert? And how does that explain the hypothermia? No, something strange is going on here, Scully. Something not very ordinary after all."

Soon the police chief became available and introductions where made. Scully asked the man if either man had reported any of their immediate belongings missing after the abduction.

Chief Montgomery flipped though his case file. "Harry Bellows' wallet is reported missing. He added that there was only five dollars in it at the time though, his driver's license and a few membership cards..."

Mulder interrupted the man with a request. "Could you just run a check for me and see if his driver's license has turned up anywhere? Meanwhile we should get going to the campsite." The chief agreed to do so and sent over one of his men and gave him the appropriate directions to the site. The man, Officer Marsh, led them to an all-terrain vehicle used by the police department and they began the drive to the site.

Officer Marsh was an attractive man and seemed to take an interest in the female FBI agent. The entire way there he made small talk and went on flirtatiously with Scully, who was sitting in the front seat with him. Mulder sat in the back seat, fixedly gazing out the car's window but silently listening to every word that passed between the officer and his partner. His sights remained fixed on the passing tumbleweeds and scraggly bushes until he heard Scully laugh at some joke the officer had made. Glancing over he caught Scully looking back at him.

"What's the matter Mulder? We're almost there." He suddenly realized he had a scowl on his face. Quickly wiping it off he mumbled something about the heat and turned back to the roadside view that was quickly passing them by. Was he jealous? No! Why on earth would he be. Scully wouldn't be attracted to a man like Officer Marsh, would she? Of course not. Or would she be? Why was he even concerning himself with such a trivial matter? Sometimes he hated his own mind.

Thankfully they soon arrived at the campsite and he speedily opened his door and went around the side of the car to open Scully's. She looked at him in surprise, but thanked him. Throwing a glance at the police officer he abruptly turned away and walked over towards two small tents, one of which had collapsed. There was the typical camping gear scattered about. No effort to clean up the site had been made.

After searching the ground for what seemed like an eternity in the desert heat, Officer Marsh called out, "I got a partial tread!" The tread was left somewhat under one of the wiry little bushes that dotted the landscape. The officer continued. "There was definitely a car here...judging by this tread I'd have to guess a jeep. All other traces of the vehicle would probably have been blown away by the wind by now, we're lucky to have found this one."

Mulder and Scully looked at each other. The officer had no knowledge of the case, he didn't know of the abduction claims. Scully raised her eyebrows and smiled at Mulder. She loved it when she was right. It made her feel so empowered when her hunches proved more valid than her partner's usually insane sounding theories. However, she didn't find herself feeling that empowerment too often...

Back at the PD the trio was greeted by the chief, who was brandishing a manila envelope stuffed with papers. "This is today's found ID's reports. I had one of my officers look through it for Harry Bellows' ID, and sure enough there it was." He pulled out the top paper and handed it to Scully. She scanned quickly over the form and handed it over to Mulder. He too glanced over it and requested to use the telephone to call the contact number that had been included on the paper. It was a French restaurant called "Le Jardin de la Joie". Excusing himself, he went down the hall to use the telephone that had been pointed out to him. Scully remained in the large, noisy room of the PD.

Having made his call and receiving directions to the restaurant, Mulder made his way down the hall, but stopped at the entranceway to the main area. Scully was standing close to Officer Marsh, looking up at him. Mulder inched a bit closer to hear what was being said, but still remained concealed by the open door.

"So Dana, what are your plans for tonight? Ever been to Vegas before?" the officer asked her, smiling.

"Uh, well, Nick, I , ah..." So that was the bastard's name. Nick. Nick the Prick. Couldn't he see that Scully wouldn't be interested in a man like him? Mulder suddenly felt very territorial for some reason.

"I would love to, and no, I have never been this city before...But you see, I'm working on this case, and...well I really don't know if it's the best thing for me to be going out while I'm here..." Scully replied guiltily, knowing full well that she would have tonight free. There seemed to be nothing left to investigate but the restaurant. But for some strange reason she couldn't explain...didn't want to explain....she wanted just to be with her partner. She inwardly told herself that it was because they didn't get much time to socialize together, like normal people. The officer gave her a small smile that didn't do much to conceal his disappointment. She reached over and touched his arm, about to say something to assure him that her rejection had nothing to do with him personally, when Agent Mulder suddenly swept by and slapped the manila envelope in her hand. Barely glancing at her, he announced that he got the directions and he was ready to check the restaurant out. Glancing over at the dejected officer she smiled at him and gave him a small goodbye, then turned to her partner and left the station with him.

He had been afraid that she was going to accept that officer's obvious invitation to a date when she reached out to touch the man's arm. He had to interrupt before that happened. Scully would most likely be busy tonight, she would probably be thankful that saved her from a night of meaningless conversation with that guy. But who was he kidding. What she did was no business of his. So why did it feel like it was? And it wasn't a big-brother feeling either....could it be jealousy? Quickly pushing those thoughts out of his mind, he opened the door to the rental car and got in.

"Le Jardin de la Joie" Mulder said, emphasizing the French accents with a flourish. "How would a man's wallet travel from a campsite almost 50 miles away, to a fancy French restaurant? And all without the man knowing it?" The two agents stood outside the restaurant.

"I don't know Mulder, maybe it was craving some escargot avec des champignons?" Scully joked. Ahhh, the rare Scully joke, thought her tall partner. His French being trivial, all he could think of to say was "Peut-être, ma cherie". Following him into the restaurant Scully smiled behind his back. Once inside they were immediately greeted by an immaculate looking man with a heavy French accent. "Mademoiselle, Monsieur, table for two?" He smiled and clasped his hands together. Mulder spoke up.

"We're here about the license that was found. I spoke to a Monsieur du Pont about it, we need to speak with him." The host didn't look surprised and invited them to follow him into the back of the dining area and through a small door. An old man sat inside at a desk, making entries into an account ledger. He spotted the two agents and stood up to shake hands.

"Bonjour, I am Monsieur du Pont, the owner of this restaurant. I believe you have come to inquire about the wallet I had found this morning?" Learning that this was indeed the case the man continued.. "I was helping to restock the freezer room when I discovered it underneath a shelf on the bottom. It is very strange. I do not know how such a thing could have come to be in my freezer. My chefs are not allowed to take personal items with them into the kitchen. And the freezer was locked." Clearly perplexed, the man shrugged his shoulders and looked at the two agents expectantly, knowing that while having the wallet in his freezer was indeed an embarrassment of sorts, he still could not understand why there were two FBI agents come to visit him about it.

Feeling that the owner had nothing to do with why Harry Bellows' wallet was in his freezer, Mulder asked to be shown where exactly it had been found. They were led to the freezer room in the kitchen and shown inside. It was a large space, and looked to be very clean. Both agents examined the area and found no further clues.

"Monsieur du Pont, we're going to have an officer come down and dust the freezer door for prints. That wallet belongs to a man who was taken from 50 miles away, and who can not remember where he was taken." Scully spoke. Turning towards Mulder she said in a low tone, "Mulder, did you remember to search for another hotel?"

Mulder shook his head no. She rolled her eyes and gave him an annoyed glance. "Well, why don't you stay here and wait for the officer, I'll take the rental car and check out some local hotels, book us a couple of rooms and leave our luggage there. I'll call your cell and let you know where I book us." Her partner agreed to this plan and Scully left to find them a hopefully normal hotel in the area.

The man sat with his newly acquired photographs. Taking out an X-acto knife he slowly and deliberately traced it's razor edge around the despised man in one of the pictures. As he traced around the form he felt his bitterness and hatred escalate into a familiar feeling of madness. He knew what he was doing what crazy. He also knew that he himself must be crazy. But he was a man so full of desire for her, and hatred of him, that his actions seemed almost sane in his eyes.

He removed the man's figure from the photograph and set it aside, his face set in a grimace. He knew quite a bit about this man. Taking out his lighter he flicked it on, staring at the flame for almost a full minute before he took the paper figure up again in his hand. He carefully moved the edge of the figure to meet the flame, and felt a kind of release when the fire took. He watched as the figure he had so precisely removed from the photo started to curl up at it's edge, blackening, the chemicals discoloring, spotting, running down the image. He wished that somehow, he could make the same happen to the actual man himself. But this was the next best thing he knew to do. So far. He didn't want it to have to come to that. If it did, she might not have him. He knew quite a bit about the woman too.

Next came the best part. He smiled and dropped the now burnt piece of photographic paper on the floor. Repeating his earlier movements, he soon held up the figure of a woman in his hand. Someday she would be there with him forever, in the flesh. This was just temporary. Kissing the paper, he carefully lifted the plastic cover of one of the pages in a photo album full of similar images and pressed it to the sticky paper. Smoothing the plastic down over it again, he smiled. He felt so much better. Things might actually go as he planned. He had been waiting so long for his chance. And he knew his dreams would come true soon.

Having remained at the French restaurant, Mulder stood watching the local CSI dust for prints. He was bored. They would find no prints belonging to whomever had taken those men, he felt. No, whoever had taken the two men from their campsite so far away knew what they were doing. They had acted so quickly that neither of the men had been awoken by the sound of the vehicle they had used to get there. He sorted out the details in his head. A bright light, then next a trip to a freezer room in a French restaurant. It didn't add up. There was no connection to the restaurant. This job had definitely been planned in advance. And the culprits, or even just one culprit, had certainly had the finesse to break into a restaurant in a busy city and place two men in a freezer room.

Taking his cell phone out he pressed speed dial and was met with Scully's voice.

"Mulder, I told you I would call you when I found a place. I haven't had any luck yet." He responded.

"That's not what I'm calling about...Scully, how long would those men have had to be in that freezer room, so they came out with their condition of hypothermia?" There was a slight pause. He could almost hear her thinking. When she gave him the response of one hour to two hours, he hung up. He found himself reflecting on the fact that they never said goodbye. He liked it that way. He hoped that he would never have to say goodbye to her. His thoughts returned to the case, a much safer area of thought.

So not only did his culprit take the men to a freezer room for a few hours, but he or she then removed them, and drove them 15 miles outside of the city limits, in the general direction of the campsite. But why? This really made no sense. Mulder found himself growing more and more intrigued by this case. Before he had found it mundane, even boring in it's predictability. But now...it was starting to feel like a challenge. He loved these types of cases. But only as long as nobody got hurt in the end. Especially his partner. He would kill anyone who so much as touched her.

An hour later Scully walked into the police station to meet her fellow agent. She had had no luck finding a couple of hotel rooms, and not even any luck finding just one. She didn't want to search the whole city for a room , it was just too tiring. So she had called Mulder and asked him to meet her at the PD, as it was much closer to her location at the time then the restaurant was. So he had came back with the investigation team and was patiently sitting, waiting for her when she arrived. He looked happy to see her, an observation that lightened her mood by a few notches. She was just so tired. As she reached him, he put his arm on her shoulder and turned her towards him closer. He spoke in a low voice,

"Scully...I've been doing some thinking. I've came to the conclusion that this abduction wasn't done by any alien, or thief. It's just too intricate, too many unnecessary moves. Now those men must have been drugged somehow. So I called the hospital, both Harry Bellows and Stan Holmes were discharged from the hospital last night. And what's more is that both their charts are missing. I checked with the doctor but he claims that he has no memory of the results of their blood work..."

"Mulder, if there were any results at all. I think you're going too far with this theory. It could be a case of simple revenge on the men, or one of the men...It could have been some kind of...I admit, it's confusing. It's frustrating, having a case in which you cannot figure out the motive for. But what I find more frustrating at the moment is the fact that I cannot for my life find a couple of decent hotel rooms!" Mulder gave her a look that she couldn't decipher. As she raised an eyebrow at him and was about to ask what he was thinking, she spotted Officer Nick Marsh over his shoulder. Breaking herself from Mulder's gaze she gave the policeman a big smile and a greeting. His face lit up as he strode towards the agent. Barely acknowledging Mulder, he exclaimed, "Dana! What are you doing here again so soon? You haven't broken your case yet?"

Interrupting the officer's laugh Mulder answered the question that he had not been asked. "Actually no. And we're here waiting for any matches made with some fingerprints that we found today." The officer murmured a polite "Good luck" and turned to Agent Scully once again. Before he could speak she broke in.

"Nick, would you know any available hotel rooms in the area? My partner and I need a few rooms for tonight...we..we weren't satisfied with the room we had last night." She blushed, wishing she had not just admitted to this man whom she barely knew that she and Mulder had shared a room. That was something she would not have admitted to her own mother. She quickly added, "The hotel we stayed at only had one room available for us two agents. There must be quite a few conventions going on, because I'm having a hell of a time finding some rooms. " The officer glanced at Mulder and replied encouragingly,

"Yes, it's convention time here in Vegas, all right. It's our busiest time of the year here at the station. Well that, and New Years. But don't worry. I have a cousin who owns a hotel around here, I'm sure I can pull a few favors and get some available for you."

Officer Marsh winked at her as she handed him her card with her cell phone number on it. "We'd be so grateful if you could find us some rooms, thanks," she said, relief in her voice.

As the officer left to go about his business, Mulder was just turning towards Scully to remark on how that was some interesting way to get her number when the police Chief bustled towards the two agents.

"Sorry agents, the only fingerprints found belonged to the restaurant owner and two of the chefs who work there. You need me to run any checks on those guys?" Mulder shook his head no, telling him it wouldn't be necessary. They were at a dead end. He had no suspect, motive, or evidence beyond the tire tread. But he had the method. That was something. But Skinner would be expecting a full report soon on their progress. This was personal to Skinner, he wouldn't be satisfied with leaving the ends untied. Fortunately that was something Mulder really hated to do. He thought Scully felt the same way. He turned towards her.

"Hey Scully, wanna go eat?"

"As long as the restaurant doesn't have a theme, I do." Mulder grinned and placed his hand on the back of her arm, leading her out of the noisy station.

"I think everything in this city has a theme of some kind, Scully. So you're out of luck." She smiled back at him. "If I'm so out of luck I guess I should put off that gambling I've been meaning to do."

When the two agents had finished their lunch in the jungle-themed restaurant Mulder had chosen, there was an uncomfortable lull in the conversation. Neither knew what to do next. They had nowhere to go until they found a hotel room. So to prolong their stay at the restaurant, they requested dessert when the waiter came, and sat in silence once again when he left.

Mulder found himself thinking of how much he would like to be sitting there at a restaurant in Las Vegas with her if they weren't on a case. Even during the few occasions that they had went out to dinner together, back in D.C., they talked about current or past assignments. He looked at his partner and tried to pretend that they were on a date.

"Mulder, whoever took..." He interrupted her with a shake of his head and a sigh.

"Let's save the case talk for later, huh Scully? I just want to pretend I'm happily waiting for dessert right now." He gave her a smile and looked at her. He recalled a time when someone he had encountered on a case had told him that he "gazed" at Scully. He had retorted with a long stare and told the man, "I do not gaze at Agent Scully". He now realized that he did indeed to some serious gazing. Most of it when she wasn't looking. He wondered what was the significance of the fact that he gazed and did not stare, or even just regard her.

"What is it, Mulder?" Scully asked him, with a little laugh. He made a mental note to stick with the gazing when she wasn't looking back at him. "Nothing, I..." thankfully her cell phone interrupted him. He wasn't quite sure of what he would say. Oddly enough he continued to keep his eyes fixed on her as she spoke into the phone.

"Oh, thank you so much Nick. We really appreciate it...What's that? Dinner tonight? Well, I...." She stammered and looked at Mulder, unsure if she should accept the officer's invitation. When she glanced over at him he had torn his eyes away and looked down at the table, poking his fork into the piece of pie that the waiter had just brought over. Annoyed at his lack of reaction to the obvious invitation to dinner taking place right in front of him, she accepted. She would be meeting the Officer at the hotel where he had found them a couple of rooms, at about 7 pm. Didn't Mulder care at all? She wondered what he would do when she was gone. He was just as frustrating as this case had become.

Mulder stuck his fork into his pie, putting all his effort into not looking at Scully right now. He didn't want to see any happy expression on her face. Happy that she was actually going out on a date with someone else. Not that they themselves had ever gone a date with each other. But didn't she know that he had wanted to eat dinner with her tonight? He supposed they did every night they had a case together. Just another dinner with good ol' Mulder, she must think. At least this jerk she was going to dinner with lived so far away. He would probably never hear about him again when they left. He suddenly wished that this case was solved, or somehow resolved. He wanted nothing more than to see Scully in their office once again, where she was all his. At least for the hours of 8 to 5, she was. He finished his pie and finally looked up at her. Scully was staring at him. It was certainly no gaze. She had a half-annoyed expression on her face. He wondered vaguely what he had done wrong when she told him that she was ready to go and check into the hotel. Nodding his head he laid some bills on the table and they left.

Scully was sitting on her bed in the hotel room she held adjacent to Mulder's. She was watching TV, but it kept going snowy, like there was a storm coming their way. She sighed, disappointed. Suddenly the connecting door flew open and there stood her partner. He opened his mouth to speak and the TV was all but forgotten.

"Scully, I don't want you to go out tonight." He had a worried expression on his face. Scully's pulse quickened and she continued to stare at him quizzically.

"You should stay here. Don't you see, it's not safe to go out alone with someone you don't know. You might get hurt." Scully continued to watch as he sat on the bed beside her. "I don't ever want to see you get hurt, Scully."

Suddenly he was kissing her, hard and passionately. She could feel how much he wanted her, and her heart filled with joy. She had thought this would never happen, she had only dreamt it.

And she continued to dream it. Scully woke up with a start and turned to her side where she lay on the bed only to observe Mulder sitting down at the end of it, flipping through the channels on her television. She sighed. What on earth had possessed her to dream of such a thing. She briefly wondered if he ever dreamt of her that way. The thought of grabbing him and kissing him to find out if it would be like her dream came to her mind before she buried it. How ridiculous. He would probably push her away and be too embarrassed to even look at her for the rest of the year.

"Welcome to the wonderful world of the living, Scully. No wait, scratch that wonderful part..." Mulder glanced sideways at her as she sat up in her bed. She made a tired little moan and remembered that she had fallen asleep before she had even gotten the chance to start unpacking her suitcase. Suddenly she gasped as she remembered her 7 o'clock date with the handsome young officer. Frantically looking at her watch she saw that it was already 6 o'clock. She had been asleep for three hours! Jumping quickly from her bed she ran to her suitcase and unzipped it, then dumped the contents on her bed where Mulder still sat, who now paying no attention to the TV.

"Damn Scully, I must really be rubbing off on you. That's how I unpack." Mulder gave her a half smile. Crap! He had been fervently wishing that she would oversleep and miss her date. Ohhhh wouldn't that have been a shame if she had not been able to spend the evening with Officer Prick. Mulder frowned, thinking that he should have changed all the clocks so she would have thought it was much earlier than it actually was. Then she would have missed the date for sure. But he knew his partner better than that...actually she was too smart to fall for such a simple trick. And she would be mad at him for the rest of their stay here. Plus, he thought with a shudder, he would have had to explain his actions to her eventually. And that would not have been fun.

Scully dug through all the clothing she had brought. She had been hoping to maybe check out some nice casinos while in Vegas, so she had brought a few very sophisticated and fashionable outfits for such an occasion. She chose a tight fitting V-necked tank top by Michael Kors, and a pair of long, flared pants in sky blue by Versace with it's matching figure-emphasizing jacket. Looking over at her partner and noticing that he was watching her intently, she rolled her eyes at him, grabbed her makeup bag, and rushed to the bathroom to shower and change. Why did he make her have to feel so guilty about this innocent little dinner she would be having with an officer of the law? He hadn't said anything but she had seen the disapproval in his eyes as he watched her. Scully frowned as she continued to get ready in the hotel bathroom. She deserved this night out. She almost never got to go on dates like this. Not that she wasn't asked out, but she always refused the invitations. She had only accepted tonight's because of the way Mulder had been acting when she had been asked via her cell phone right in front of him. Like he didn't care at all. Well she would show him that she didn't care that...he didn't care...and...this was getting too complicated. So many situations involving Mulder did.

Mulder continued to sit on his partner's bed. He looked at the TV instead of watching it. He knew he should not care so much that she was going out. She was only his partner. But even as he thought that he gave a little laugh. Yeah, right. He was downright jealous, he realized. He never got to go out to dinner with her and not have to discuss some X-file involving the monster of the week or some psychopathic serial killer with a tendency towards fetishism. That was such a great topic for the appetite. And did she ever make such a huge effort to look stunning as she was currently doing tonight for Officer Prick when she went to meet her own partner somewhere? He thought back to the elegant suit she had grabbed out of her suitcase. Maybe she did make an effort, but he just never noticed it. He should really pay attention to her more.

Suddenly the door to the bathroom and Scully stepped out. She was completely ready to go out...and she looked perfect. Mulder couldn't stop looking at her as she went over to her suitcase to find a small vial of perfume and her evening purse. Scully looked over at him and frowned. Why did he have to act like a puppy who was being left alone for the first time? Sometimes he really exasperated her. She glanced at the small clock on the nightstand. Shit, she had five minutes to get downstairs and meet Nick in the lobby. Saying goodbye to her partner, she grabbed her evening bag and rushed towards the door. As she was halfway out she heard him call, "Give my love to Officer Nick" in a comically high voice. Turning her head back she flashed him a grin and answered him in a seductive tone, "Oh, I will!" and she blew him a kiss. As she closed the door behind her, still grinning, she wondered why she just did that. Must have been the strange way he was looking at her...Not choosing to delve into the subject deeper, she rushed towards one of the elevators and pressed the button to go down.

Mulder practically leapt off of her bed as he raced towards the phone. Now that she was gone he could begin. Dialing a number he had memorized, he spoke into the phone.

"Frohike, it's me...turn off the tape...click...I need you to do a check on an Officer Nick Marsh over at the Las Vegas PD...No, no, I don't know that he's done anything...yet. It's just that, well, Scully's going out with this guy tonight and I want to make sure she's in safe company." Mulder's face suddenly grew a little red. "Shut up Frohike. Just run the damn background check for me, will you? Call my cell when you find something interesting. Yeah, yeah, I meant if you find something interesting. Whatever." Hanging up, Mulder felt a bit better. The Lone Gunmen were pros at doing background checks. In exchange for favors like these, he was able to feed their imaginations and newsletter with true tales of covert operations inside the government and conspiracies. If there was anything strange about this officer, he would soon know about it. And he would make sure that Scully wouldn't be far behind in that knowledge.

Scully had spotted Nick as soon as she reached the spacious lobby of his cousin's hotel. Smiling and extending her hand, she grabbed it and gave it a brief squeeze. "Thank you again for getting us these rooms in such short notice, Nick...My partner and I really appreciate it!"

The officer looked down at her and smiled. "It was my pleasure, Agent Scully." Oh, she had no idea what a pleasure it had been. It had allowed him another chance to ask her to dinner this night. He cleared his throat and extended his arm. "Shall we get going? I've made 7:30 reservations at a wonderful restaurant not too far from here." Scully smiled and took his arm. He made her feel 17 again. Then her thoughts turned to her partner. She wondered what he would be doing this evening...and felt a twinge of guilt for leaving him like that. She hadn't meant to ditch him. Suddenly less cheerful, she gave the officer a big fake smile and allowed him to lead them both out into the street to hail a cab.

They reached the restaurant and were immediately shown their table for two. It was a lovely place called The Swan, decorated in pale yellow and gold. Maybe this date wouldn't be so horrible after all...even if it didn't include her gorgeous partner. After looking over the menus, deliberating what to order, the two ordered. Scully leaned back in her chair as the officer leaned towards her, his hands lying in front of him. She watched him play nervously with a cloth napkin as she answered very generic questions about herself. What she did exactly (boy, did she give that question a wide berth... she didn't want him to laugh at what she and Mulder did...he wouldn't understand it's importance), where she grew up, even her favorite food. She felt herself relaxing a little...Nick seemed like a very nice, ordinary man who had an innocent attraction for her. She had been beginning to think that she was cursed never to go out on dates with men who didn't intend her any harm...Mulder would never bring her any harm, why didn't she go out on dates with him? The back of her mind nagged at her.

"Dana? Dana? I was asking you what you thought of Las Vegas so far." The officer reached out and touched her hand lightly, laughing.

"Oh! I'm sorry Nick...I was just wondering what progress my partner has made so far with this case we're on." Scully looked slightly embarrassed to be caught thinking about her partner. The attractive officer's eyes narrowed slightly. Or so Scully thought.

"Ah, Agent Mulder..." He said with a strange inflection in his voice. "I'm sure he's making fine progress." Suddenly his tone and appearance went back to how they formerly were. He continued to lay his hand on top of Scully's, looking at her like she could crumble away into nothingness in a moment. Their waitress came and laid the first of the plates down on the table. Scully observed her. Her FBI training has caused her to take up the habit of being as aware as possible of her surroundings...especially when people where involved. The waitress seemed very proper, as was expected of such a posh restaurant.

"Bisque for the gentleman, our house caviar entrée for the lady...Nick!" the officer's head shot up in surprise and regarded the waitress for the first time. Scully watched the exchange, noticing how Nick's expression became dominated by surprise, then apprehension. "Laura..." he drawled, giving her all the silent signals to go away. The poised waitress didn't seem to notice. Scully broke in.

"You two know each other?" She thought for a second that this woman could be his girlfriend. Scully felt a flash of anger.

"Of course! Nick and I worked together for a year at my previous place of employment. He was one of the best waiters we had, before he left to join the police force six months ago." The woman smiled and patted his shoulder, her hands now free of dishes. Scully smiled at her and asked what restaurant she spoke of. "Le Joie de la Jardin...one of the best restaurants in the city." She glanced around and added hastily, "Well, not quite as good as The Swan...Is there anything I can get you two? No? Well enjoy your entrées. I will be the one waiting on you for the remainder of your evening." She gave one last smile at Nick, who had a hard look on his face as he stared at his food, and left them. Scully's eyes grew wide as she pieced some of the puzzle together. She didn't understand everything quite yet, but she knew enough to realize that she had to get out of there...she had to contact Mulder.

Mulder was lying on Scully's hotel bed, staring at the ceiling, when his cell phone rang. Immediately sitting up and reaching for the phone, he fumbled with it before finding the talk button.

"Hello? Frohike, what did you guys find!?" Mulder held the phone tight to his ear in anticipation. As he listened his face fell. "Ok, thanks guys." Laying the phone back on the bed next to him he sighed. He supposed he should be happy that the Lone Gunmen had found nothing strange about Officer Nick Marsh. He had no police record. The damn guy never even got a speeding ticket. They told him that the man had been born and raised in Washington D.C., then moved to Las Vegas when his aging mother moved there. Probably just to keep her company, Mulder mused. Gee, what a great guy. Hooray for him. Snorting in disgust, Mulder reached for the TV remote and was poised to use it when there was a soft knock on the door. His eyebrows shot up in surprise. Who knew he was here besides Scully? And she wouldn't have to knock on her own door.

Getting up towards the door, the agent looked through the peephole. A short balding man stood there, glancing around nervously. Quickly grabbing his gun off the nightstand he shoved it in his holster and opened the door slowly. The man immediately spoke.

"Oh...I suppose you're Mr. Mulder...I'm Dan Agostino, the owner of this hotel...may I have a word with you in private?" Mulder's face registered confusion as he held the door open wider for the short man to enter. The owner cleared his throat and made sure the door was closed behind him. Glancing around the room, he finally spoke.

"Is Ms. Scully here?" Learning that she was out for the evening, he continued. "Mr. Mulder...I am sure that you are aware of the shortage of hotel rooms in the area, and that I was able to make these few rooms available to you in such short notice due to a favor I owed my cousin, Nick Marsh. But...what you might not know is...and I'm not sure if I should be telling you this, but I had thought it rather strange..." Mulder impatiently gestured for the man to continue. "Well...ah...you see Nick also requested that I get him a room. The one on the other side of Ms. Scully's room, to be exact. He also asked me not to ask him why. So being that I'm one of those people whose curiosity grows with such a statement, I thought I'd find out...why." Mr. Agostino gave a nervous laugh and glanced around the room once more.

Mulder's expression grew serious. "Can you get me in there?" He demanded. He had to check this out right away. The hotel owner gave another nervous laugh.

"Of course. I am the owner of this place." Mulder nodded and they stepped out into the hallway and placed themselves in front of the door to the left of Scully's room. He placed his hand on his holster and stood to the side as the owner slashed a card into the door's key. It opened with a click and the man slowly pushed it open and stood aside. Mulder sidestepped into the room and found the light switch. The lamps illuminated a bedroom identical to Scully's and his own. The only difference was the fact that there was a chair set up against the wall that divided this room and the female FBI agent's. As Mulder stepped farther into the room, confident that it was empty, his eyes fell upon a laptop and some wires running into the wall. It was a police-issued surveillance system. Apparently the small camera was fed through the drywall and was displaying every image in Scully's room right into the laptop. His eyes registering surprise, Mulder exclaimed, "Damn it!" and rushed out of the room. Speeding back into the hotel room next door, he grabbed his cell that he had left on the bed and frantically found the correct buttons to speed dial his partner. He felt rage take over his emotions as he thought about someone spying on Scully. He prayed that she was Ok. He didn't know what was going on, only that this kind of thing warranted Scully's attention immediately, and she should get away from the officer as soon as possible. Why were they under surveillance? Had they done something illegal in Las Vegas so far? Mulder couldn't sort it out. He didn't even want to start trying to guess at other reasons there might be a pin sized camera that ran through Scully's hotel room wall. Kicking the side of the bed in anger, he impatiently waited for his phone to connect and start ringing his partner's number, and barely registered the fact that the hotel owner had disappeared.

Scully was trying not to stare at Nick, who was slowly running his spoon through his bisque and was blatantly looking up at her steadily. She cleared her throat and knew that there was definitely something strange about the way he was acting. It could be no mere coincidence that he had served at the French restaurant. Feeling relatively safe at the crowded restaurant, and thanking God that she had worn her gun tonight, Scully dared to take a chance.

"It was you, wasn't it." The man who sat in front of her only continued to watch her, his face a perfect void of emotion. Gaining courage she continued. "You were the one who put those two campers in the freezer at the restaurant. It had a combination lock, and since you had only left six months ago, I'm sure it hadn't been changed by then." No response. She changed her tactics.

"I'm interested in knowing what your purpose in doing that was, Nick." Suddenly he jumped up, knocking over his bowl of bisque and startling Agent Scully.

"Why did I do that?" the officer laughed, a strange look in his eyes. He grabbed a corner of the tablecloth and squeezed it hard in his fist. "Because I had to. I had to! Don't you see, Dana? It was the only way I could get to meet you!" He breathed hard, his face turning red from the exertion of squeezing the tablecloth. "And I really wanted to meet you! For an entire year I've wanted...nothing else!"

Every single person in the dining area had stopped eating and were all watching this violent outburst. Some customers gathered their belongings and quickly made their way to the outer hallway. Scully remained in her seat, her hand now placed near her waist, her fingers slowly pulling off the snap that held the gun in the holster. Pretending not to be too disturbed by Nick's outburst, she calmly drew a deep breath and began to speak to the man.

"Nick...calm down. We will sort this all out. Everything is going to be Ok." She winced as his face drew into a blood-chilling grimace. He slowly stood up, releasing the crumpled corner of tablecloth he had been squeezing with so much force, as if he had been choking to death his very own emotions.

"Will it be Ok, Dana?" he whispered, leaning forward towards her, his steel gray eyes locked on her blue ones. "You're the only one who can make it Ok. Because I know what your life is like. I know how alone you are, just like me. Well we can fix that for each other, don't you know? I've known this for a very long time. And you will soon know it too." Scully was taken aback with how different Nick had become. He was no longer the flirtatious, charming officer that she had agreed to go out to dinner with. And what did he mean by having wanted to meet her for a year? She hadn't met him before, of this she was certain. Her mind raced, and she no longer felt as safe as she had before. She quickly tore her gaze off of him and checked the dining area. Only a few people remained, pressed up against corners, watching the scene unfold in front of them, aghast at witnessing the depths of this man's insanity.

It was during the one second that Scully was regarding the scene around her that the officer made his move. He pushed the table over on it's side and grabbed her arms. He forced a kiss on her, and it was as if all the sickness and misery that Scully had ever known were carried upon this man's lips. Wrenching her right arm free she kicked into her trained-FBI agent mode. Whipping her gun out of her holster she in turn grabbed his left arm and wrenched him around. Growing strong with anger and adrenaline, she put a knee into his back and forced him to the floor, her gun now pointed at his head.

"Don't move! Don't you dare move!" She screamed. Her eyes threatening to tear with anger and frustration over what she had just heard him say, she dug a thin plastic tie out of her jacket pocket, threaded the one end through the small square plastic piece on the other end and tugged viciously. As she stared at him lying there on the floor, his hands tied behind his back and her gun she still held pointed at his head, she suddenly realized that she must be more FBI agent than woman. What normal woman would go out on a date with a gun and a plastic tie. She even brought those with her when she went jogging, sometimes. Panting hard with the exertion, She continued to keep her knee pressed up against his back, and with her left hand reached for her cell phone that she had kept in her other jacket pocket. As she held it in her hand it began to ring.

Taking a deep breath and not moving her eyes from the silent officer on the ground, she spoke into the phone, knowing it was her partner without even checking the caller ID. "Mulder...I'm Ok. I have him apprehended at a restaurant called The Swan. Get a dispatch over here immediately." And she laid the phone down slowly. She didn't want to hear Mulder's voice yet. She would be more collected once the police came and took Nick away...One of their own men.

Mulder stood very still after she hung up after such a brief statement, as if by his lack of movement she would come back on the line and tell him more. But sensing that she was in need of help, he ran to grab his jacket out of his own hotel room and slammed the door behind him, simultaneously having dialed the number to the local PD and holding the phone to his ear. Barking out instructions to the woman who answered the phone there, he ran down the stairs of the hotel, heading towards the parking deck. He would get directions to the restaurant where Scully was waiting on the way there. Why did he let her go! He should have known that something wasn't quite right about that officer guy. He wished that she was here with him right now and none of this had happened. He was only thankful for the fact that she seemed to have apprehended him at the scene. He wondered if she had gotten hurt at all, and silently vowed to kill the man if he had touched her.

Scully had just finished getting ready for the day and was somberly gazing at her reflection in the mirror. Why. Why did this have to happen to her. All she wanted was a normal life, normal dates, maybe have a nice house and friends and even a little dog. But as these thoughts ran by her mind she realized that if she had a normal life, it would most likely not include Mulder. And that was unacceptable at this point. She thought back to the events of the night before, the look in the clearly mentally-disturbed officer's eyes when he had told her that she was alone, just like him. Refusing to believe that she had anything in common with that man, she frowned at her reflection.

Suddenly the door that adjoined her room with Mulder's opened, and her partner stood there and caught her frowning in the mirror. Whipping around she gave him an annoyed glance. "Don't you ever knock, Mulder? I could have been changing clothes in here." However her frown relaxed into a tired smile.

Usually he would have replied with some innuendo-laden joke, but he was just too mentally exhausted. He had stayed up half the night helping to interrogate Nick Marsh. He had been forced to look into the man's psyche, and it had disturbed him what he had seen. But he had insisted to be the chief interrogator, claiming that he was, after all, a profiler and had received his degree in psychology. He had crawled around in many sick heads, and had been deeply distraught over what he had seen more than once. But this time it had struck too close to home. And now the time had come to share with his partner what he had come to learn. He was not looking forward to this. Damn that bastard for making all this happen. He took a deep breath and strode towards her, leading her towards the bed and motioning for her to sit down. He himself could not sit. He could barely look at her.

"Scully...I think you should know what we found out last night." She nodded, her eyes raised towards him. He continued. "Last night after we brought him to the station we had a team search his apartment. Inside we found some very disturbing things." Glancing at her to see that she was expecting more, he went on. "We...we found evidence...that Nick Marsh had been stalking you periodically within the last year. We confiscated an entire photo album that was full of pictures of you, mostly taken from a distance." He was pained to notice that her eyes had narrowed and a worried, sick expression filled her pretty features.

"Where there...any..." Scully began to ask but her partner continued for her. "deeply personal pictures? No, thank God...he didn't make his way into your apartment it appears." She let out a breath she had been holding. Ever since she had returned to her room last night and learned why the door to her left was covered in yellow Crime Scene Do Not Cross tape, the matter of how long this man had been watching her had plagued her every thought. She motioned for Mulder to continue, suddenly feeling very vulnerable. She watched him as he began to pace a short distance in front of her, only meeting her eyes briefly.

"I interrogated him all night, Scully. I learned that he had pulled off this 'abduction' of Stan Holmes and Harry Bellows by himself. He had lived in Washington D.C. all his life, moving to Las Vegas a year ago to take care of his mother. Apparently he had become...infatuated with you the year before, when he had bumped into you in a bank. He had hired an un-licensed private detective to find out your personal information, and later used his position in the police force to find out even more about your life, and mine as well." Mulder cleared his throat, not looking at his partner yet. "He found out somehow that our boss, Skinner, had a friend in Las Vegas. He also found out about the X-files, and what we do."

Scully interrupted him, forcing Mulder to look at her. Her face broke his heart, she was so helpless looking. But he knew she wasn't. "Mulder, I knew that it must have been he who had taken the two men. He most likely used the all-terrain police vehicle, which comes equipped with a powerful searchlight on the dash. He knew he had to make it look like an alien abduction so he somehow drugged the men, and placed them in the freezer of the restaurant in which he had previously worked. He left them in there long enough to give them hypothermia, and probably intended to drive them back to the campsite, but they must have started to wake up or something. So he dumped them only 15 miles outside of the city limits. Then he must have sat back and waited for us to arrive..." She broke off, her voice breaking at the last word. This was so much to ingest all at once. Someone had been stalking her for the past year, going as far as to set up an elaborate crime that would almost be guaranteed to involve the X-files...she didn't want to think of what would have happened to her if something could have gone wrong. She knew how unstable these types of people were. She might have ended up getting raped or hurt, even killed, and she shuddered to think of what he might have done to her partner. She suffered more at the thought of Mulder getting hurt than of her own self getting hurt by that man.

Mulder looked at her gratefully. "I couldn't have said it better myself, Scully." He sat down on the bed next to her and looked at her carefully. She stared in front of her, her mouth open a little, as if agape over what the officer had done, and had probably intended to do. Mulder was so glad that she was ok, and he hadn't got a chance to hurt her. Although his rage boiled up inside of him once again as he remembered that she had admitted to him that he had forced a kiss on her. Seeing that her eyes continued to be fixed on some imaginary spot in front of her, he hesitantly put his arm around her and drew her head to his chest.

"Scully, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I can't imagine how you must feel right now." His partner pushed herself away from him and her eyes found their way back to that imaginary spot. When she spoke he felt his heart wrench in his chest.

"Mulder...I don't need to be comforted. Yeah, it's a pretty bad experience to go through. But I've been through lots worse. As have you." She gulped and straightened her back. But Mulder had to be sure of her words. Leaving behind his inhibitions and letting himself get lost in pure concern for her, he reached up and took her chin in his hand, tilting her head so her eyes eventually found his own. In them he saw determination and strength, but also sadness and uncertainty. He felt like he was now closer to looking at her soul than he had ever been. Feeling an overwhelming need to let her know that he really did care about her, he looked deeply into her eyes, forcing Scully to become aware that an something even softer was slowly replacing the compassionate side of Fox Mulder. Moving his hand from her chin to the side of her face, he spoke gently in a low tone.

"You are so strong. I know that you don't need anyone else to take care of you. But I hope you know that I would like nothing better than to make sure that you never get hurt again." Her eyes opened wider, and suddenly all she was aware of were his eyes, and the touch of his hand on her cheek. He shifted his weight forward a bit. Time had effectively stopped. She swore that he must be able to hear her heart beat. Not even daring to breathe, she continued to regard him intently as he continued to speak in a gravely low tone. "Scully...Dana...there's nothing I can say to make you see how I feel. Every word I know fails me."

Suddenly his other hand was on the back of her neck and he was tentatively leaning even closer towards her. They were sitting side by side, but it seemed like a distance of a million miles between them. They continued to stare into each other's eyes, hoping to communicate without the use of words. Words were useless. They were mere sounds at this moment in time. Scully closed her eyes when Mulder's became to close to her own, his expression too full of emotion for her to witness. All at once his lips had found her own. She could feel his arm shaking as he pressed his mouth against hers. Knowing that the next move belonged to her, Scully responded. She didn't even think as she wrapped her own arm against his back and pressed her lips harder against his. His lips were so soft and warm and full, and somehow with this simple (simple!) act of kissing she was being told a story. They kissed harder and faster, until their lips parted and her tongue finally tasted his own. Her eyes still closed, she felt dizzy and saw lights flashing behind her eyelids. He was so deliciously near to her, he was holding her so closely. She never wanted him to release her from his embrace. Mulder leaned his weight on her, forcing her head to meet the covers of the hotel bed. They continued to kiss passionately until she broke away from his lips and laughed. He looked at her quizzically, as usually he would be the jovial one. Scully gave him a big grin, suddenly feeling more elated and alive than she had ever been.

"There's something...different about this case, Agent Mulder." She could barely pull her mouth from it's smile as he answered her with, "Case closed, Agent Scully. Case closed." And soon all thoughts of cases and the FBI left their minds.

The End

Hooooray, I finished it! I hope you enjoyed my first piece of fiction, ever. (it's a far cry from essays written in French about French poetry...bleh school sucks) You know, if I hadn't been getting such nice reviews and pleadings for more chapters, I don't know if I would have written this. Thank you! I really hoped you enjoyed it, as I've enjoyed other MSR stories I've read. They tend to go great with insomnia! :D

I would love to hear what you think of the story. So go and make my day. You can review without even having to register...look in the bottom left corner. ;)

Please stop by here to offer the author feedback https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1417650/1/

Return to Bump In The Night