Your Little Secret

By Shawn V. <> (Kirshnera on the IRC)

Rated PG-13

Submitted April 2000

Summary: Lois, happily engaged to Clark, gets a blast from the past when her ex-lover and still good friend FBI Agent Fox Mulder shows up in Metropolis with his partner Dana Scully. Matchmaking, solid friendships, compromising situations, shocks, misunderstandings, dinner parties, and even some good makeout scenes ensue.

Author's note: Time Frames: Mulder and Scully are from a stand-alone perspective — just assume they've been together a while. Lois and Clark are mid-season 3. Lois and Clark are engaged, and this is set *after* the episode "Virtually Destroyed." For the sake of argument, I'm also using Teri and Dean's ages instead of Lois and Clark's. My Lois was born in 1964, same year as Scully, and my Clark was born in 1966. Mulder was born in 1960.

There *is* a case happening, but I'm including as little detail as possible about it— this is about four people's relationships, past and present, it is not about a story or an X-file.

Also, as for Maggie and Toby, the last time *I* saw them (and I don't follow the comics really well, so it may not be the last time they appeared) was in Superman: the Wedding Album, at Lois' bridal shower and bachelorette party.

I have decided, after much prompting, to include a CONTENT WARNING with this story. It contains some minor language that is stronger than what's typically found in L&C fanfic— but not by much. The warning is for a small amount of lesbian content. Before *that* scares people off— Don't worry, this is a completely WaFFy story— I didn't pair Lois off with someone else. Or Scully, for that matter. But if any references of that nature offend you, read someone else's story.

The language was edited somewhat for the story to be posted to the archive. There are only a few minor differences, but if you'd prefer the un-diluted version, go to


The newsroom of the Daily Planet was teeming with life as Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder walked in to begin their investigation. They were looking to speak to Clark Kent, as Inspector Henderson had told Mulder that Clark and his partner, Lois Lane, had discovered the body, victim of another of a series of odd murders, and phoned the police.

The editor-in-chief, Perry White, was in his office, taking a much-needed breather, when Scully and Mulder walked in to speak with him.

He regarded them quietly as they entered his office. "May I help you?"

Mulder held up his FBI ID. "Special Agent Fox Mulder. This is Special Agent Dana Scully. We'd like to speak to Clark Kent and Lois Lane."

"May I ask what for?"

"We're investigating a murder. We believe two of your reporters were the first at the scene."

He nodded, then stood. "Go into the conference room here, and I'll send Lois and Clark in." He ushered the two agents into the conference room.

Mulder and Scully stood for a minute in the conference room, glancing around disinterestedly. Then the door opened, and two reporters walked in.

Scully immediately pulled out her ID. "Special Agent Dana Scully, Special Agent—"

"Mulder?!" Lois interrupted.

He looked up and paused for a second, apparently amazed at how she looked. "Lois!"

"Mulder?" repeated Clark. "*Fox* Mulder?"

"Yes… I… I've been keeping tabs on your career— I hoped you'd be able to help me out a little."

"Yeah… FBI? Wow. That's… How have you been?"

"Great… You?"

"Spectacular. This is my fiance, Clark Kent."

Mulder looked up as if noticing Clark for the first time. "Oh, hello, Mr. Kent. Congratulations!"

"Clark," he corrected with an odd look in his eyes. "Thanks. So you're Fox Mulder."

"Yeah, how do you know who I… oh, I guess Lois probably…"

This whole time, Scully had been looking from her partner to the two reporters and back again, trying to figure out what was going on here. Mulder finally remembered her presence. "Oh, um, this is Dana Scully, my partner. Scully, Lois Lane, Clark Kent."

"Nice to meet you," said Clark instantly, shaking Scully's hand.

"Same here," Scully said. "How do you all know each other?" The question was directed at Mulder.

"Oh, Lois and I… uh…" he trailed off.

"We met about thirteen years ago," Lois finished smoothly. "In London. I never expected to see him again."

"Neither did I…"

"What are you doing in Metropolis?" Lois asked.

"Oh… we're on a case. That's what we need your help with. It's about the murder victim you found the other day, actually. We need to ask the two of you a few questions."

"Go ahead," said Clark.


Twenty minutes later, the questioning was finished. It hadn't been abundantly helpful, but it had given Mulder and Sculy a few leads to work with.

"Well," said Mulder, "thanks for all your help. Lois, it's been… great to see you again. Really."

She smiled at him. "Yeah… it has." She paused. "Hey, would you two like to go out to dinner with us tonight?"

"Well…" stalled Scully, even though the question hadn't been directed at her, "we're working…"

"We can talk about the case if you like," suggested Clark. Apparently, he would go along with whatever Lois wanted.

"For old times' sake," Lois said with a grin.

"Sure. We'd love that," said Mulder. He turned to Scully, inclining his head slightly.

"Okay," she said.

"I assume you're staying in town?" Lois asked.

"Yeah, although we haven't gotten there yet. The Apollo Hotel?"

Clark made a disgusted face. "You guys work for the government— can't they get you a better place than *that*?"

Lois ignored the comment. "Okay, we'll pick you up in the lobby at… say… seven?"

"Okay," replied Mulder. "See you then."

"Take care," said Lois.

Mulder grinned. "Bye." With that, the two agents left the conference room.

Clark turned to his fiancee. "So *that's* Fox Mulder. *The* Fox Mulder. Student at Oxford, big partier…"

"He wasn't a big partier… and before you say it, neither was I. You know the story."

"Yeah, I just…" he shifted uncomfortably.

"I'm sorry. I know how you feel about it. But we're just friends now. It was over ten *years* ago."

"You obviously remembered him. But then, I guess you always remember your first time, hey?"

"Clark… don't complicate this. It was just… one of those things. You know."

"No… actually, I *don't.*"

Oh. That's what this was all about. It made sense once Lois thought about it. Clark was upset because Mulder and she had shared something that she and Clark hadn't… yet. And that Mulder was her *first* lover.

"Clark, if it makes you feel better, he doesn't *mean* anything to me. Honestly, he never really did. We met that weekend, we'd never seen each other before. We exchanged a few phone calls, a few friendly letters… eventually we just lost touch."

"Yeah…" he said quietly. "But Lois, you know that I never… and it's hard enough for me knowing that you *have* without meeting the guy who…" He sighed. Part of it was that the man he had just met was his fiancee's first lover. Part of it was the fact that it reminded him that Lois had experience. She wanted him, but she also wanted someone who could please her. Mulder could. Whereas *Clark* didn't exactly have the necessary practice. He had to face facts— he wasn't going to be as good as Mulder. And Lois knew it.

Lois could sense the trail Clark's mind was going down. "Clark. Look at me." She took his face in her hands. "Do *not* get all jealous of him. He's a part of my past. That's *all.*"

"Lois, I'm just afraid that I'm not going to…"

"Clark, we've talked about this." She sighed. "I *love* you. It's not about sex. Even if our first time isn't everything either of us wanted, it is still perfect because it's *you* and *me.* That's what I want, Clark. Not some romance-novel lover. You. And the fact that you *waited* for *me*… It means a hell of a lot more to me than spectacular sex. Okay?"

By this time, he was smiling slightly. "Okay."

"No more performance anxiety?"

"Can't promise that," he said, but his expression was playful.

"Close enough," she replied, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Besides, he's not nearly as gorgeous as you."



"This place is disgusting," muttered Scully as she walked into her room at the Apollo. "Not even a light… just a bare bulb." She sighed and started to open her suitcase. Now she'd have to find something suitable to wear for dinner. She didn't even know where they were going, whether it was causal or dressy or even formal… She sighed again and decided it could wait a minute.

She knocked on the adjoining door before walking through. "Mulder?"

"Yeah?" he replied. He was lying on the bed, which was far too small for him— his feet nearly hung over the end.

"Would you kindly explain what the hell just happened?"

He looked at her blankly for a second. "Where?"

She raised an eyebrow.

"Oh. That. Well… it's a long story. You sure you want to hear all the gory details?"

She sat down on the bed next to him. "I'm listening."

"It all started back in Oxford… maybe thirteen years ago. I was… well, it was while I was still with Phoebe. She had left for… two weeks, I think. Something like that. Anyway, she was out of town for a while. I was invited to a big party, hey, I couldn't turn down the invite, right?

"Anyway, there was this young girl there… Lois… She must've been eighteen or nineteen, I don't think she was twenty. I guess that wasn't really young. I mean, I was only four years older than her, but it's more of a difference when you're younger.

"We sort of hit it off. I mean, really. I was getting… well, this is going to sound weird, but I was sort of getting frightened by my relationship with Phoebe. She was too fast, too demanding, too dangerous… scary. And Lois was everything she wasn't. She was young, sort of naive, innocent, virginal…"

"Not threatening at all?"

"Exactly. She was wonderful, smart, pretty… We spent that weekend together, and it was really great. We talked on and off for maybe a year after that… no more sex, just conversation. You know. Letters, phone calls. I only physically saw her that once. Then we lost contact.

"I don't think Phoebe knew about it… but she may have guessed, I'm not sure. Or someone who was there might have told her. At that point, I really didn't care.

"But Lois is probably the only woman from my past who doesn't make me cringe at the sight of her. Well, her and Linda, the girl next door, who had freckles, thick glasses, and fat legs."

"Poor girl."

"Yeah, but she didn't scare me," he said with a grin. "I can't believe Lois is getting married. That's wonderful. And from the looks of Clark, she's apparently improved in taste since I knew her."

Scully allowed herself to indulge in a small smile. "Don't sell yourself short, Mulder."

"Hm… Married. Wow." He put his hands behind his head.

Scully realized that he was going to turn introspective on her, and so she decided to leave. "I'm going to see what I can find to wear to dinner."


Once in her own room with the door shut, she flopped down on her bed. So that was the story with Mulder and Lois. It wasn't so bad. Actually, it had almost been a relief to hear that they had seen each other once, and then remained friends for a while.

Besides, Lois was engaged to Clark Kent. There was really no reason for that tiny little seed of jealousy that had threatened to sprout in the pit of Scully's stomach. She was glad she'd talked to Mulder about it. An old lover, yes, but really just an old friend. Friends were so much easier to handle.

Besides, Mulder was *happy* that she was getting married. How could that possibly seem threatening?

This was no Phoebe Green, Scully decided.

But, thoughts of that aside, what *could* she wear to dinner? It was nearly six o'clock, and she wanted to have time to shower after the long trip they'd taken that day. Unless she wanted to risk having to go back and change after meeting Lois and Clark in the lobby, she'd have to figure out what to wear.

The safest bet was undoubtedly to call Lois or Clark and ask what the dress code was going to be. The problem with that was the fact that they most likely got out of work at five. She'd have to dial their home number.

Well, it wasn't like it was going to be a big pain. She might as well just do it. There was a pay phone right in the room, anyway. She grabbed the phone book and leafed through it, looking for Kent. She wasn't quite sure she'd feel comfortable talking to Lois.

Thankfully, he had a listed number. She dialed it quickly. It rang several times before an unnaturally cheery voice answered. "Hello, this is Clark Kent. I'm not available to take your call, but leave a message, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can! BEEP!"

Scully hung up. Looked like she was going to have to call Lois after all. She looked up the number and dialed it. It rang seven times before being picked up.

"Hello?" came the rather breathless answer.


"Yeah. Who's this?" Lois sounded like she'd been running or something. Of course, Clark wasn't at his apartment, and they *were* engaged… Scully suddenly felt embarrassed.

"Um, this is Scully."

"Oh. Hi, Scully. What's up?"

"I just wanted to know… what the dress code is for wherever we're going."

"I'm not… What do you say, Clark, casual?"

"Casual is good," came a distant voice.

So Clark *was* over there. Now Scully was sure she'd interrupted something.

"Did you hear that?" Lois asked. "Casual's fine… jeans and a t-shirt. Okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks." She paused. "I'm sorry if I interrupted anything." She heard muffled laughter coming from Clark. How had he heard that?

"Oh, it's, ah, no, you weren't interrupting anything. Nothing *important,* anyway." Scully could almost hear the visual daggers being shot at Clark. The laughter stopped. "So, we'll see you at seven?"


"Okay. Bye."


Before Lois hung up, Scully could hear her saying something along the lines of "You are a dead man, Clark Kent." Scully put down the phone and sighed. She hoped Lois realized what a lucky woman she was to have a guy like Clark… somebody who was just *there.* She was getting married. Something Scully didn't think she'd ever be able to do. Not unless she quit the Bureau, decided to do something more normal.

In fact, it had been so long since Scully had been in anything close to a normal relationship. Poor, dateless Scully. Can't find anyone willing to put up with her job.

But she had to admit— it wasn't *just* her job. It was… her.

The Ice Queen?

Maybe not completely. But… sometimes.


Yeah. Mostly him. He was territorial. He was domineering. He was worse than her brothers. Any man she dated would *automatically* be under suspicion of various evil deeds including treating her less well than she deserved and being total scum.

Not to mention the fact that she *wanted* him. Anyone else would just be… unfulfilling. But she couldn't have him. So what did that leave her with?

Nothing, that's what.

Sure, his friendship. That was a given. Still, it was not quite what she wanted. And she was going to end up being one of those women who spend their whole lives looking at couples walking down the street and wondering, "Why didn't I ever do that?" One of those old women who stopped and cooed at other peoples' babies…


She sighed again and resigned to stop thinking depressing thoughts. There was just enough time to shower and get ready to go out tonight, and she was going to have a good time.


Lois and Clark stood in the lobby, waiting for the two agents to meet them. After a minute, Lois caught sight of Scully's flaming red hair. "Well, there's Scully," she said, gesturing for Clark's benefit. "Oh, she's gorgeous, don't you think?"

Clark grinned. "You really want me to answer that?"

Lois rolled her eyes and moved to meet Agent Scully. Scully was wearing an emerald green t-shirt that highlighted her hair magnificently and came to an attractive but modest V on her chest. She also had on form-fitting stonewashed jeans.

"Hi, Lois."

"Hello," she replied. "I love your hair."

Scully allowed herself a small smile and touched her hair self- consciously. "Thanks." It was too rare an occasion when Scully did anything that could be considered social. It was almost an odd feeling to be with a few people just because they wanted to be together. Of course, this should legitimately just be Lois and Mulder going out. She was just invited because she was Mulder's partner. Still, it was easy to like Lois. "Mulder'll probably be down in a minute or so and we can get going."

"Oh, it's no big hurry. Let's just go over here and sit down." There were a couple of couches in the lobby. Lois and Clark sat in one, facing Scully, who was on the other. "So, how long have you two been working together?"

"Five years," she replied.

"Wow… that's amazing. Clark and I have been partners for about two and a half years. You must have a very special relationship."

"Yeah… I guess we do." Scully waited for the inevitable next question, the one that would try to determine whether she and Mulder were lovers. But it never came.

"It really is something… trusting another person with your life on a regular basis."

"It is. It teaches you a lot."

Lois nodded silently. At that point, Mulder walked up behind Lois and Clark. Scully glanced up and saw him. "Mulder. You finally made it."

"Yep," he agreed, moving over and sitting next to Scully. "So… where are we headed?"

"Well, I'd suggest the Ace O' Clubs," Clark said, "but since it's Friday night, that might not be the best place…"

"It gets kind of crazy there on Friday nights. All the loonies come out," Lois explained. "We could always go to Dooley's…"

"Yeah," agreed Clark. "That's a great spot. Good food, big portions, reasonable prices. Sound okay?"

"Sounds great," said Scully. "I'm famished."

"She ate a *salad* on the *plane,*" Mulder complained. "Woudn't touch anything else."

"Mulder…" she began with a 'let's not start this again' tone in her voice.

"Hey, I'm just looking out for your best interests," he protested.

"Dooley's it is, then," said Lois. "Come on, my car's out front."


"… so I'm tied up to this *lightning rod* with Jimmy, and while he's busy confessing that he's had a crush on me and telling me his dreams, this total psycho is trying to flood the world."

"The crazy thing was," continued Clark, "there were so many people who believed him. So many followers, who worked at the Larry Smiley Institute. Sometimes I wonder exactly what would have happened if he hadn't been stopped. I doubt he could have flooded the world like he wanted, but he had some interesting technology… And it was certainly starting to create a heavy storm."

"That's fascinating," said Mulder. "And this was right outside of Metropolis?"



"Sounds like you guys live as exciting lives as we do," Scully said.

"Well, not quite. It's harder to get into stuff when you're on the other side of the government. And a heck of a lot easier to get in trouble," Lois said.

"I bet," said Scully, glancing at Mulder. "We still manage to do it, though."

There was silence for a minute.

"Excuse me," said Lois, "I have to use the ladies' room." She looked at Scully questioningly, inclining her head.

"We'll be right back," finished Scully.

The two women stood and walked away from the table.


As Lois washed her hands in the sink, she glanced at Scully in the mirror. "You know, you two remind me so much of myself and Clark."

"Really?" Scully asked, half-interested.

"Before we owned up to the fact that we were in love, that is."

Scully turned to face Lois. "What?"

"It's true for you, isn't it?"

"How did you…?" Scully sighed. "Is it that obvious?"

"I lived it for two years," she said cautiously, knowing exactly the dangerous ground she was treading on. "You think I can't recognize mutual unrequited love?"

"Mutual… But, I…"

Lois gave a small smile. "He's more obvious about it than you are. Quite a bit more. I can't believe you lasted six years. I know *I* don't have that much self control. By the end of two, I was cracking. I know how it is, Scully."


"Dana, then. How you see him every day, watch him as he works. Your mind just trails off and you end up thinking about him. Wishing that you could do something together that wasn't somehow work related. But even work seems somehow more fulfilling when he's around.

"You think about him at night when you're alone… wondering what he's doing, trying to stop yourself from picking up the phone and dialing his number. Because you know if you do, it will just be that much easier next time. And you try to get him out of your head, try to date someone else… but it's no use. You're stuck. You're in love. You're trapped."

Lois looked over to see tears forming in the corners of Scully's eyes. "Oh, Dana. I know how you feel." She opened her arms and the two women hugged tightly.

"I don't know what to do, Lois," Scully whispered.

"Shhh. We'll figure something out. Trust me."

At that moment, the bathroom door opened and a middle-aged woman walked in. Her eyes widened as she saw the women embracing. "I… ah, I beg your pardon," she mumbled, and left quickly.

Lois and Scully broke apart. "Here," said Lois softly, handing Scully a tissue. "Wipe your eyes. We can talk about this later. This isn't a good place, and the guys'll probably be wondering what happened to us."

Together, they walked back to the table to rejoin their male counterparts. They shared a small smile and a private glance as they settled back into their seats. Lois had carefully watched Mulder's expression as Scully returned, and she knew she wasn't wrong. She had seen Clark's eyes light up that way for her. They still did.

"Hey, the food's here!" Lois exclaimed happily. "This stuff looks fantastic."

Scully had to agree. It did look fantastic. Not just the food, but her future. If Lois was right… and she'd been right about an awful lot of stuff back in that bathroom… then things were looking bright for Special Agent Dana Scully.


Lois drove the group back to the Apollo Hotel, and Mulder and Scully got out of the car. Before Scully turned to go into the hotel, though, Lois spoke to her. "Hey, Dana."


"Give me a call when you're done working tomorrow, okay? We can go out somewhere, have a little girls' night, have a little talk… I bet we can do something about your little situation."

Scully smiled. "Okay. That'd be great." She turned to walk into the hotel with her partner.

Clark looked at Lois expectantly.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing. I'm just glad you're getting along."

"Don't you *dare* give me that you-need-more-female-friends speech. I hear it quite often enough from my sister."

"I wasn't going to."

"Right. She's really nice. Someone I can talk to, about life and love."

"What about me?"

"Someone *female.* And your mother doesn't count, not for this, even if we have had some meaningful heart-to-hearts."

"What about Maggie Sawyer?"

"She's not much to talk to when you're discussing relationships, even if she is fun to hang out with."

"Good point."

"So, what did you think of Mulder?" Lois wanted to steer the topic of conversation back to where she wanted it.

"He seemed nice enough. Smart. A little weird, maybe, but hey, who isn't? And I can hardly fault him for believing in *aliens,* now can I?"

"Well, *other* aliens. You're not exactly par for the course, hm?"

"I guess not."

"What *else* did you think of him?"

"Why? Is this some weird psychological thing where you want me to approve of your old lovers? Because if it is…"

"No, no, no. That's not it at all. I just want to know if you can tell how he feels about Dana."

"Oh. That."

"Yeah. You think?"


"They're adorable."

"They don't realize it yet, I don't think."

"No, they don't. I think Dana's starting to, though."

"Is that why you took so long in the bathroom?"

"It's as good a place as any."

"You know what I think?"

"Sometimes." She grinned at him. "All right, what do you think?"

"I think we should stop worrying about what a lovely couple *they* make, and start thinking about the couple *we* make. We're almost back to my place. Come in for some… coffee?"

"Oh, I don't know. It's getting late…"

"It's Friday…"


"'Lethal Weapon' is going to be on."

She smiled a little. "You know how to tempt a girl."

"Whatever it takes." He grinned at her. "Chocolate, Mel Gibson— within reason— a massage…"

"A massage? Your place it is," she said, parking the car.

They walked inside, shutting and locking the door behind them. Lois walked down the few steps into Clark's living room, over to the answering machine. There was one message from a phone company, wondering if he'd like cheaper long distance, and one from Clark's old friend Frank.

"Hey, Clark," the message ran, "I thought you'd like to hear this news— Julie Hawke is getting married! What a tragedy!"

Clark chuckled as he listened to the message.

"Who's Julie Hawke?" Lois asked.

"Frank's favorite actress. Total silicone-peroxide ditz. But his taste's always been somewhat… shallow."

"You fault him for preferring annoying blondes? Because I seem to remember a certain ex-girlfriend of yours…"

He held up a hand to stop her. "You can stop the blonde jokes right there, sweetheart. Lana Lang is a redhead. Or… was."

"She's still annoying."

"Well… she's changed a whole lot. I think you caught her at a bad time, though. She'd just had a fight with her husband."

"Okay, okay, she's not an annoying blonde. Happy? Now who is it with the weird psychological thing?"

"Just so you don't fault my taste."

Lois laughed throatily. "I don't fault your taste, Clark. Come here. You owe me a massage."

He stepped up close to her, his body only inches away from her own. "All right," he said quietly, pressing a kiss against the side of her mouth. "Take off your shirt and lie down on the bed."

"Mmm, I love it when you're forceful with me."

"Lois…" he said warningly. "Watch your step."

She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Why? What are you going to do to me if I don't?"

"This," he murmured, and pressed his lips to hers softly.

"Hmmm… that's nice." She started to pull him toward the bedroom. "Now… you can deliver that massage you promised."

Clark looked away as she stripped her shirt off and lay face down on the bed, holding a pillow under her chin. He sat down next to her, after retrieving a small bottle of lotion. She jumped slightly as he poured a little bit onto her back. "Hey, Clark, that's freezing!"

"Sorry," he apologized. He stripped his own shirt off, and Lois turned slightly to look at him, smiling. "Keep facing the other way," he told her.

"All right," she sighed. "But I'm reciprocating after you finish. I'm not going to miss a chance to have my hands all over you."

"Don't worry, I won't let you miss a chance like that," he promised, leaning close to her ear. He started to rub the lotion into her skin, his hands caressing her gently. Then his fingers presed lightly into her, moving in small circles.

She sighed. "Mmmm… that feels good, Clark."

"Yeah," he agreed, causing her to smile. "You want to stay tonight?"

"I don't think I'm going to feel like leaving."

"That a yes?"

"Of… ooh… of course."

"You like that?"

"Hmmm, yeah." She reached out and grabbed one of his arms, pulling him down beside her.

"I wasn't finished," he said as he took her in his arms.

"I know." She tilted her head up slightly and kissed his waiting lips. "What do you think Mulder and Dana are doing?"

Clark's muffled laugh came from the area of her clavicle. "I don't care."

"Hmm…" She began to ponder the thought, but decided she was more interested in the light kisses he was placing up and down her neck. "I hope they're as happy as we are someday."

Clark pulled back to look at her. "I'm sure they will be. Now… I think we have some more important things we could be doing than worrying about their sex life."

"Yeah," she agreed, "like getting a massage." She pushed him away slightly, intending him to resume his previous activities.

He kissed her again. "I take it you want me to keep going, then?"


"I have to be— you're so subtle…"

"Come on, come on, I don't have all night."


"Scully, are you okay?"


"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Mulder… why?"


She gave him an odd look. She was just humming softly. Was that so out of character? So she was happy. What was wrong with that?

"Goodnight, Scully."

"Night, Mulder." She lay back in her bed, her eyes closed. What a night! She felt so damn good she could giggle.

Mulder loved her.

Mulder *loved* her!

She didn't doubt Lois' evaluation of the situation— her credentials were high, having done the same things, lived the same feelings. And she and Clark were happily engaged now…

Partners, friends, and then something more…

This case wasn't an x-file. She'd known that from the start, or at least suspected it. She hadn't minded, really, visiting Metropolis, so she hadn't protested their involvement in the case. And now, was she ever glad she came!

She wasn't feeling tired at all, and probably wasn't going to be able to get much sleep. Funny how a little suggestion like Lois had made could excite her so much. Just the hint of Mulder returning her feelings, just the mention that she and Lois could work up something, could make all her fondest dreams come true…

Perhaps it wasn't such a little suggestion after all, but a life- altering one. There were going to be some major changes in Scully's life, and if Lois was the intuitive, brilliant woman her reputation hinted she was, those changes were going to be for the better.

It wasn't that she depended on Lois for help with this— she certainly welcomed the help, not being much in the relationship department, but she'd be able to do this on her own. It was the camraderie. Conspiring with another woman, like she used to do way back when her life didn't soley consist of work. It gave her courage, and comfort.

She never thought she'd *ever* feel camraderie with one of Mulder's ex-lovers. Not in a million years. But here she was, with what amounted to a new best friend.

Maybe Mulder's taste hadn't been *all* bad. Lois *almost* made up for Diana, and that was saying a hell of a lot.



The phone rang in Lois' apartment. Lifting the reciever to her ear, she said, "Hello?"


"Oh, hi, Dana."

"What do you want to do tonight?"

"Oh, I don't know… You interested in a typically female outing of shopping?"

"Sounds like fun to me."

"You ready to go now, or should we wait a while?"

"Oh, I'll be ready by the time you get here."

"Good, I'll pick you up in about ten or fifteen minutes. Okay?"

"See you then."

Scully hung up the phone and opened the dresser drawer to grab jeans and a t-shirt. She also picked up a pair of comfortable platform shoes. She didn't feel as dwarfed by Lois as she was by Mulder's 6'1", but she still preferred the few extra inches the shoes gave her.

She changed, then knocked on Mulder's door before opening it.

"Hey," he greeted her from his position on the bed.

"Mulder, I'm going out."

He shifted his gaze from the ceiling to her face. "With who?"



"*Yes,* really. I'm bringing my cell phone, but don't call unless it's an *emergency,* okay?"

"Okay. You like her, don't you?"

"Yeah. I like her. Why does that surprise you?"

"Usually you don't like my choice in women."

"Usually you don't have good taste." She felt free to banter with him, stepping over limits which she was now realizing might have been imaginary.

"Scully, I'm hurt. After all, I've kept *you* around these six years. I must be *slightly* sane."

"Slightly is a good term for it," she responded. "But, true, you do have *some* sense."

He grinned at her. "Have fun with Lois. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Or, at least, don't get caught."

"Ha ha. See you tonight."


"Oooh, Lois, I forgot shopping could be so *exhausting*!"

"Time for a break?"

"Definitely. Let's go over to the food court and get some munchies."

"Sounds good. There's this one place… I forget the name… but it has the nicest dish. Steamed vegetables over rice, in some kind of sauce. Tastes great, and it's not even bad *for* you!"

"I hope you're not insinuating that I need to lose weight."

"After the way you looked in that little green thing? Absolutely not."

Scully grinned. "I can *not* believe I bought that."

"It was on *sale.*"

"It's just so…"


"Hmmm, yes. That's it exactly."

"You're going to blow his mind… to say the least."

"The very least. And hey, you didn't look so bad in it yourself."

"Pretty darn flattering, if I do say so myself. And I *do* like the burgundy one."

"Almost makes me feel sorry for Clark and Mulder."

"Almost," Lois agreed, "but not quite."

"No. Not quite. That metallic bra/panty set, on the other hand…"

"Oh, God, that was ugly! Ah, here we are! You want to try that rice dish?"

"Yeah. Lois, you're a meanace to my wardrobe."

"You won't regret it. Trust me. All those suits… It's nice to just… let go once in a while. Besides, you'll never know when they're going to come in handy."

"Oh, right, I could just answer the door in a bathrobe, let it *accidentally* fall open…"

"*That's* the spirit! No, on second thought, you'd probably kill the poor guy. Especially if you were wearing some nice, strappy, sexy black stilettos."

"That's just too perfect."

"Hope he's got a nice grave picked out." She turned to the boy at the counter. "Two of those rice and steamed vegetable dishes."

"Here lies Agent Mulder…"

"She was too sexy for him," Lois finished.

"You're good for my ego."

"Oh, good. At least you don't think I'm being obscenely personal."

"Actually, you *are.* But it's been a while since I've been able to have an obscenely personal friendship with another woman." She paused. "You know what I mean."

"Obscenely personal? Hey, sounds like fun," came another voice. The two women turned to see a taller woman, slightly older, with cropped blonde hair and a muscular but slender figure.

"Maggie!" Lois exclaimed. "How's it going?"

"Good, good. Yourself?"

"Oh, busy as usual." She turned to pick up the food and pay the cashier.

"Who's your friend?" Maggie asked, glancing over at the redhead appreciatively.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Dana Scully, this is Maggie Sawyer. Maggie, Dana."

"Nice to meet you, Dana."

"Same to you, Maggie."

"So, who are you plotting the death of *this* time?"

"Her slightly-slow-on-the-uptake significant other."

"Ah, it's one of those. Well, don't kill off *all* the decent men in the country. After all, we need some of them for manual laborers."

Lois grinned. "So what are you doing here?"

"Oh, Toby needed to pick up a couple of things before we go on vacation."

"Where are you going?"

"Hawaii, believe it or not. Toby's always wanted to go and… well… I don't exactly *mind.* It'll be a nice break." She glanced at her watch. "That is, it'll be nice if Toby doesn't make us miss our plane."

"Was he supposed to meet you here?" asked Scully.

Lois winced at the pronoun, but Maggie smoothly corrected her. "She."

Scully blushed. "I'm sorry."

"Happens all the time. Yeah, she was supposed to… Oh, and there she is! I gotta go."

"Bye, Maggie. Have fun!" Lois called as Maggie jogged toward a tall brunette.

"Well, *that* was embarassing," Scully remarked, glancing at the two women, but turning back to Lois as Maggie and Toby shared a tender kiss.

"Hey, she's okay with it. You didn't terribly offend her or anything. How were you supposed to know? Now come on, I'm starving."


"Oh, I can *not* believe this!" Lois exclaimed as she climbed out of her Jeep and bent to examine the wheel.

"Do you have a spare?"

"No… I never replaced it after the last time my tires were shot out. At least we're only a block or so away from home. Come on, Agent Scully, we're walking."

"You're leaving it there?"

"It's a perfectly legitimate place to park. I'll call Frank's Auto when we get back to my apartment. He usually fixes it up pretty well, and I get a quantity discount."

"Common occurence?"

"Hazards of the job. You're lucky you have government-issue."

"Sometimes I think—" Scully began, but her words were cut off as a large red truck drove by and splashed mud all over her.

Lois, who had been bent down beside the car, stood up to see what had happened. "Oh no!"

Scully looked down at herself in disgust, wiping mud off of her face. "No offense to you, Lois, but I really dislike Metropolis drivers."

"No offense taken, it's perfectly understandable. Come on, you can wash up in my apartment."


The two women walked back to Lois' place, carefully avoiding any further mud puddles.


"Okay," said Lois, "you go ahead and take a shower, get all that mud out of your hair. I'll go get you a clean towel."

"Sounds good," said Scully as she took her shoes off near Lois' doorway.

"The bathroom's right over there," Lois said, pointing. "I'll get you some clean clothes to wear, too."

"Thanks." Scully walked over to the bathroom and shut the door after recieving the towel from Lois.

Lois dropped their bags on her bed. She spent a few minutes taking her purchases out of the bags and setting them carefully on the bed. Her gaze fell once more on the burgundy teddy. It really was stunning. And it was even the right color. Clark loved it when she wore burgundy— he'd actually said that once.

As long as Dana was still in the shower, Lois decided to try the piece on again. See what it looked like in the comfort and the lighting of her own home instead of the fluorescent lighting and stark white walls of the dressing room.

She was so absorbed in it that she didn't hear the ringing of the cell phone from Scully's purse in the living room.


"Hello?" asked Clark into the phone.



"This is Mulder."

"Oh, hi."

"Do you know where Lois and Scully went?"

"Shopping, I think. Why?"

"I found something new in the case, that I thought Scully'd want to hear, but when I called her, she didn't answer her phone."

"I'm guessing that's not normal for her."

"No, it's not."

"All right. I was just going to go over to Lois' anyway— she did say that they'd be finished by now. Did you want to come along? Then, if Scully's not with Lois, we can go look for her."

"Yeah. Thanks."

"No problem. Like I said, I was going there anyway. I'll be at the Apollo in a minute."

"Okay, I'll wait outside."


"Lois? Were you going to…?" Scully began as she walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel.

Lois spun around at the sound of her name.

Scully grinned. "Trying it on again?" she asked.

"I couldn't resist," Lois admitted.

"Where's mine? Maybe I'll just wear *that* under my coat when I go back to the hotel."

"You do that," Lois replied, tossing the bag to her friend, then turning around again to the mirror. "God, I love this thing."

"Hmmm, yeah," Scully agreed, dropping the towel from her body in order to put on the emerald green teddy. "How does it look?"

Lois turned and smiled. "Face it, Dana, we're hot. It'd look better if your hair was dry, though. Hang on a second." Lois walked into the bathroom and grabbed her hair dryer from under the sink. "Here we go. Sit down," she ordered, gesturing to the bed. "I've got an idea."

Scully sat down, her back to Lois, and allowed the reporter to dry her hair carefully. "What is it?"

"He's probably never seen you in anything remotely like this, has he?"

"No, nothing like this. Oh, no, Lois, I couldn't…"

"Shh. Listen. We'll just fix your hair up nicely…"


"Your hair is absolutely amazing, Dana. I shouldn't even ask this, I suppose, but do you dye it?"

"Nope, all natural."

"Lucky you," Lois replied over the noise of the hairdryer. "Now, once we've done that, we could really take some good—"

"Pictures?" Scully interrupted.

"Couldn't hurt," Lois replied.

"How do you propose I show them to him? 'Happy Valentine's Day, Mulder, these are for you'?"

"Hey, take this seriously. He's into that sort of girlie magazine stuff still?"


"Well, I've got a good friend who can really do wonders with a computer and printer. How hard would it be to get a back issue of some obscure magazine, re-cover it, and add a page or two?"

"You're kidding."

"Not at all. We could drop it off anonymously at his door, he'll assume it's from a friend…"

"One problem."


"I wouldn't be able to see his reaction."

Lois grinned. "True. But then again, you'd get to see him *slowly* lose his mind while he's in that little office with you for long periods of time."



"I could do that…"


Clark heard noises from within Lois' apartment, so he knew that at least Lois was there when he used his key at her door. He kept that fact from Mulder, though, as he was about to open the door and enter.

Before he could do that, however, he heard a distant cry for help. He winced. Good timing. "Uh, Mulder, you'll have to excuse me, I just remembered an appointment I made… and had better keep, or it'll be the second time I've missed it."

"Oh, okay," Mulder agreed. His tone betrayed that he thought it was odd, but he was going to let it pass. "Should I just go in?"

"If you want. If they're not there, just lock the door again, okay?"

"Sure." Mulder watched as Clark walked quickly down the hall and ducked into the stairwell. He turned to the door and knocked. He waited for a minute, then knocked again. There was no answer.

He opened the door slightly. "Scully?" Mulder called, but he heard the noise of a hairdryer and figured that she wouldn't be able to hear him. He walked toward the room the noise was emenating from, then stopped dead in his tracks at the sight that greeted him.

Lois Lane and the woman he loved. Together. Far, far too close together for him to feel comfortable.

Scully was sitting on Lois' bed, her eyes closed and head slightly tilted as Lois, kneeling behind her, held the hairdryer with one hand and ran the other through Scully's luxurious hair. The pair were wearing matching lacy teddies, Lois in burgundy and Scully in green. Lois glanced up, feeling that she was being watched, and gasped.

Scully's eyes snapped open and she exclaimed in shock, "Mulder!"

Both women instinctively crossed their arms over their breasts and seemed to shrink back, the action proclaiming their guilt to their observer. The hairdryer, still running, lay noisily on the bed.

"Scully…" Mulder murmured, but he was unable to get past her name.

"Mulder, I…"

He backed away. "My God, Scully… Lois… I… oh my God, Scully."

"Mulder, wait, listen to me," Scully protested. "This isn't… We're not…"

"No…" His voice hardened. "No. You know what? I do *not* want to hear about this. Don't explain it— I don't think I could handle any excuses right now. I hope you're *happy* together." With that, he stormed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind him.

"I…" Scully began, then sighed, walking off into the bedroom.

Lois followed. "Dana?"

"Go away," she mumbled into the pillow. She was lying face-down on Lois's bed, crying.

Lois' heart went out to the woman. "Dana, I'm sorry," she said softly, sitting down on the bed and putting a hand on Scully's back.

"It's not your fault," Scully replied, her voice muffled.

"It's at least part my fault, as much so as it is yours."

"No. It's not your fault. It's not your fault… Oh, Lois, he thinks…"

Lois started to softly rub her friend's back. "Don't worry. We'll set this straight. You'll be okay."

"Everything was going so well… I thought maybe… maybe this time… What am I going to do?"

"I don't know."

"What can I *say* to him? That is… assuming he'll even let me talk…"

"Of course he'll let you talk."

"You don't know him like I do. If he doesn't want to hear something, you could scream it at him a thousand times, paint it in blood across his bathroom mirror, and brand it onto the back of his hand and he still wouldn't listen. He won't give me a chance."

"Then just say it quickly, before he can tune you out."

"Easier said than done. You try it some time."


"I'm sorry, that was rude. It's just… tough. You know?"

"I know. I know it's not easy. But you'll work it through."

"Lois… do you have any *idea* what's just happened?"

"Dana, I'm sure he'll be…"

"No," she interrupted. "He won't listen. Not to me, not now. He's so damn stubborn…"

"Two stubborn people *can,* in fact, have a good relationship. Of all people, *I* should know. Clark and I… we would put you and Mulder to shame. It slowed us down a little, yeah, but we managed to get past it, and look at us now. He's not determined to hate you. He wants to love you. He'll *want* to believe what you're telling him. And that makes it a *lot* easier to convince him of it."

"Even when the evidence points the other way?"

"Especially then. He's an 'against all odds' sort of guy."

Scully sniffed. Lois had a point. She smiled a little and sat up. "Thanks, Lois. I just hope Mulder and I have a happy ending waiting for us."

"You have to," Lois said seriously. "You have to.


As he was running out of Lois's apartment building, Mulder bumped into the last person he would have wanted to see at the moment. Clark Kent.

"Hey, Mulder," Clark begain, "was she…?" He trailed off when his mind registered the expression that hung like a tortured spirit around the agent's face. "What's wrong?"

Mulder closed his eyes briefly. He didn't relish explaining this to Clark. He had nearly been destroyed by the news… he couldn't imagine how it would feel to Clark, who was *engaged* to Lois.

"Mulder? Is your partner all right?"

Mulder winced at the question. "Yeah," he said harshly, a little more so than he'd intended. "Yeah, she's just *fine.*"

"Are you sure?" Clark asked cautiously.

"Clark, I… I really shouldn't be the one to tell you this. You shouldn't have to hear it from a guy you hardly know."

"Hear what? what's wrong?"

"You and I, my friend, have just been cuckolded."

"What?" Clark repeated incredulously. "What are you talking about?"

"Although not in the sense of the word that Shakespeare intended."

"What are you getting at?"

"Lois and Scully."

"Are…?" he prompted.



"It's true. They are. I saw it myself. I walked in… nobody answered when I knocked… shouldn't have walked in, I suppose, but it's too damn late now, isn't it?"

"You *saw* it? Them? Together?"

"I did," he said and grimaced. "My God, I did."

"There must be some sort of explanation," Clark said slowly.

"Yeah," Mulder agreed. "Lust. God, I never thought Scully would be a… a… My God, I still can't believe… and with an engaged woman…" He put a hand over his face. "Hey, Clark, I think I'm about to break one of my personal guidelines for life. Could you point me in the direction of a good bar?"

"Ace O' Clubs, down by Hob's Bay, Suicide Slum. Tell Bibbo that Clark sent you if you get any trouble."

"Thanks. Sure you don't want to join me?"

"I'll manage."

"All right. You do that." He turned to leave.



"One question. Did they… say anything?"

He paused. "You mean did they vehemently deny what I saw? No. But to be fair, I didn't exactly give her time to talk. Take that with whatever salt you like." With that, he left, hailing a cab and taking off into the night.

Clark stood there for a moment, staring after Mulder, before disappearing into the sky as he often did when he had something to seriously ponder.

His first reaction had been surprise and disbelief. The surprise had by now worn off, and only the disbelief remained. It seemed impossible, unrealistic.

It wasn't possible, he reasoned to himself. She wanted him. He knew it. There was quite a difference between a willing woman and one who *wanted* it, and he knew that Lois wanted him. She wasn't just complacent with the idea of him as a lover— she liked it.

After all, hadn't she melted in his arms in the virtual world? Hadn't she been the instigator of that? Hadn't she moaned his name? Hadn't it seemed like they would have gone all the way if Jaxon hadn't interrupted?

It was impossible. It was unreasonable. Why on Earth would she act with him? Why would she date him, agree to marry him if she didn't like men? It was crazy. He couldn't entertain those thoughts for even one moment. They were crazy.

Lois was a sensible person. If she really didn't want him, he'd know. She wouldn't lead him on that way, not if she never intended to follow through.

There was no way. Lois loved him. There was no way. It was crazy.

But then a devious inner voice piped up. 'She doesn't necessarily have to be turned off by men to be turned on by women,' it whispered.

Crazy. Impossible. Impossibly crazy.

Clark swallowed hard.

'You have to face facts… Mulder saw them.'

Mulder saw them doing what, exactly? With a sickly pale but still present burst of hope, Clark realized that Mulder had never said exactly *what* he'd seen.

And coming from a man who saw aliens, mutants, and other assorted and sundry things for a living…

Maybe he hadn't seen what he thought he saw.

Maybe there was a better explanation than bisexuality.


Shaking his head to clear it as best he could, Clark decided that he needed to talk to Lois, before any decisions could be reached.

Anything else would be… crazy.


Back in her hotel room, Scully paced, trying to think of what she would tell Mulder when he returned from wherever he was… and wondering just where in Metropolis that was. She wished she could go and find him, but that was difficult in D.C. It would be near to impossible in an unfamiliar city the size of Metropolis. He could be anywhere.

She was fairly certain of where he would be if they were at home. He would be at a semi-crummy bar that was about a fifteen minute drive >from where he lived. He didn't often frequent the place; she'd only seen him drunk once, maybe twice. But if anything would drive him there, it would be this.

Especially if he loved her, as Lois had claimed.

There were hundreds of bars in Metropolis, though. He could be at any one of them. Or he could be somewhere else entirely. She just didn't know, and it was the not knowing that made her anxious.

Just like every time when he ran off to some place unknown, leaving her behind and worrying her senselessly. This time, though, he was escaping from her rather than leaving her in the dust because of his own excitement.

He'd have to return to the hotel eventually, though. He wouldn't shirk his work, not even for a personal crisis. She knew that well enough. His work was everything to him.

Still, Scully was just inches away from calling Lois on the phone and asking if she could suggest a couple of nearby bars in which Mulder might be found.


Lois lay on her back in bed, staring at the ceiling. What a night. How could their plans have gone so awry? They'd started out trying to get Mulder and Dana together, but instead ended up driving the two apart.

Poor Dana. She was right, Lois knew. Mulder wasn't going to listen to her, not if he could avoid it. But Dana was strong. She could fix it so that the man *couldn't* avoid it.

Or so Lois hoped.

There was a rushing sound at the window, followed by a polite tap.

"Come in," she called.

In a flash of blurred blue and red, Lois's fiance was suddenly in the room, wearing a navy blue t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a pair of faded blue jeans.

Lois smiled. "Clark, it's so good to see you."

He sat down on the bed next to her. "Lois… we have to talk."

"About what?"

"I… uh… ran into Mulder on his way out of the building…"



"What did he say?"

"He said that you and Scully were…"


"I wasn't… I mean, I didn't… didn't *want* to think that…"

Lois sat up and touched his tense shoulder. "Shh, Clark. I know. You have to trust me on this."

"I do trust you. That's why I want to hear it from you. What was going on?"

"It's hard to explain, so I'm just going to leave it at this. What Mulder saw was not what he thought it was. I would never do that to you." She saw the tension in his body visibly fade away.

He sighed. "I love you."

"I love you, too," she replied, and the last bit of tension melted off. She kissed him lightly, smiling against his lips. "I'm glad you decided to come talk to me before doing something crazy."

"Hey, give me some credit. I have learned *something* over the years I've known you." But then his expression grew introspective.

"What? Did you hear something?"

"No… I just remembered. When you said 'something crazy.' Mulder is… out getting drunk. At the Ace O' Clubs. Do you think we should call Scully and let her know where he is? I mean, I'm sure she'll be wanting to talk to him."

Lois nodded. "Yeah, that's a good idea. But I'll call Bibbo first, make sure Mulder made it there." She picked up the phone from its place on the bedside table and dialed the number for the Ace O' Clubs.

"Hi, I want to talk to Bibbo. This is Lois." She paused for a moment. "Bibbo, hey. Look, I need to know if a guy's there. Tall, dark hair, sideburns, medium build, funny nose… probably drinking fairly hard." Another pause. "No, don't get him, I just wanted to make sure he was there. Don't let him leave, okay? We're getting him a ride home. Yeah. All right, I will. Take care."

She dialed the Apollo Hotel's number and got transferred to Scully's room. "Hi, Dana? I just wanted to… what? Yes, that's what I was about to tell you. Yeah, a bar. It's called the Ace O' Clubs. Down by Hob's Bay. You think you can find it okay? Good. I told Bibbo not to let him leave, so he'll be there when you arrive. Okay. Goodbye… and good luck." She refrained from adding 'you'll need it.'

"I hope everything works out for them," Lois said, watching as Clark slipped off his shoes and pulled his legs up onto the bed.

"Yeah… they're a nice couple." He took Lois in his arms and lay back. "I could get used to this," he commented after a minute.

She snuggled up close to him. "I don't think I ever will," she replied as his body heat penetrated the thin cotton nightclothes she wore. She sighed almost inaudibly.


Scully walked into the Ace O' Clubs, stopping just inside the door. She scanned the area for Mulder, and found him seated on a stool by the well-lit bar, staring into a glass. She walked over to him.


"Hey," he replied. "What are you doing here?"

"Three guesses."

"I'll pass."

"Looking for a drunk who need a ride back to his hotel."

"I'm not drunk. This is my second." He gestured at the full glass. "I never was much of a drinker." 'You should know that' was the accusatory undertone of the statement.

"Oh. Well, I was looking for you."

"You've found me. Now what?"

"Do you want to leave?"

"Not especially."

"Do you want to stay here and talk?"


"Then we're leaving. Come on." She attracted the attention of the man behind the bar, a grossly muscular man with a squashed face and a dirty apron over a Superman t-shirt, so that Mulder could pay his bill.

"Hey," the man said, "'s no problem. Any friend a Kent's is a friend a mine. Jes tell 'im Bibbo ses hello."

"Sure," Scully promised. The man raised a hand in salutation as the two agents left the bar.

They didn't talk as they walked to the car Scully had driven to the Ace O' Clubs. They didn't talk as they drove away, down the streets of Suicide Slum. They didn't talk until Scully pulled over onto a paved area that faced Hob's bay and parked the car.

"Why'd you stop?"

"It's a good a place as any," she replied. "And we need to talk."

"I'm listening."

"Look, what you saw today…"

"No, wait. Scully, I know what you're going to say. I'm sorry I got so upset. I've been thinking about it, and I had no right to be that upset about it. It's your life, and hell, it's your body. If you prefer… an alternative lifestyle, I'm not going to begrudge you that. There's nothing I could do anyway."

"Mulder, I…"

"No, I mean it. I'm not going to stand in your way, although I must admit I'm a bit surprised that of all the people in the world, it had to be one of *my* old girlfriends."

"Mulder…" She could hear a tinge of sarcasm seeping into his voice.

"And I was a little annoyed that you've kept me in the dark for so long. But hey, it was none of my business, right? I don't need to know about all your comings and goings, just like you don't know about mine."


"And yeah, I guess that you could say it was a major thing, a huge issue, but you have the right to privacy, even from me, even though we trust each other with our lives on a daily basis, and I thought we could share just about everything."

"Mulder, would you…"

"And I'm sure that you had no idea you were at all leading me on. No, not at all. It probably didn't even occur to you that it would be cruel to let me *hope* for some kind of relationship, to even consider the idea, if there was no possibility for its realization. Just let me think what I like, right? Because I'm sure you 'knew' that I could never have any genuine emotions for you. Naturally not. I understand that's what you thought; there was no way you could have known differently."

"Mulder!" she exclaimed sharply. "Would you please just *listen*?"

"Go ahead," he returned.

"I am *not* a lesbian. I did not, nor did I ever have any *intention* to do *anything* with Lois. What you saw… was misleading, and you jumped to conclusions."

"Oh, good, I was wondering when we'd get to the part where it's all my fault."


"Well? What am I supposed to say? Okay, Scully. You were in *bed,* with another woman, wearing what has to be *the* sexiest lingerie I have ever seen. You looked damn well like you were enjoying yourself. Gee, sorry, I must have missed something there."

"All right. All right. I admit, it looked… damning."

"That it did."

There was silence for a few minutes.

"Did you really mean it?"

"What part?"

"The part about me leading you on. Do you really think I led you on?"

"That depends."

"On what?"

"The future." He was staring resolutely out onto the water.

"Genuine emotions?"

He shrugged. "Don't tell me you don't know. I know you're smarter than that."

"You've never said anything before."

"I have. I've said it plenty of times. I said it in my hallway, before that damn bee showed up."

"Did you mean it then? I always wondered if you weren't just desperate to keep me from leaving."

"Of *course* I was desperate to keep you from leaving! You're the only thing that keeps me going at times."

She didn't respond to that, only looking out at the moon being reflected on the water.

"I told you that I loved you when I was in the hospital, after the ship incident."

"You were on drugs."

"You know *very* well that drugs wouldn't make me suddenly love you. All they did was give me the courage to say it. I shouldn't have even tried. Start the car, Scully."


"We're leaving."

"No, we're not."

"What do you want from me? You want me to rip out my heart and hand it over so you can sautee it with onions and feed it to stray cats? Start the car."

"No. We're not done."

"Yes we are. I've said all I'm going to. More than I should have." He reached over to turn the keys.

She grabbed his wrist and forced it away.

"Fine, if you're not going to drive, I will." He reached over and unbuckled her seatbelt before she could realize what he was doing. He grabbed her and pulled her toward him.

"Mulder, quit it!" she exclaimed as he tried to simultaneously pull her into the passenger seat and climb over her. She fought him as best she could in the cramped space, blocking his move.

They grappled for a minute, then Scully felt Mulder's grip on her arms relax. She remained tense, familiar with that particular trick. She thoroughly expected him to move quickly and decisively once she let her guard down.

Instead, he just remained still for a moment, pinning her down in the center of the front seat of the car. "What are you doing, Mulder?" she growled.

He stared into her eyes for a moment, then leaned forward to press his lips to hers. It was a hard kiss, forceful, and nearly violent. But very brief. Scully roughly shoved him into the driver's seat and pulled back into the passenger side. "Go ahead. Drive," she commanded.


"What the *hell* was that?"

"I thought…"

"Damn it, Mulder! What do you think you're doing? What is *wrong* with you tonight? I came here to straighten out a… simple misunderstanding. I wasn't looking for a fight."

"What about truth, Scully? Were you looking for that? Were you looking to see what has been *right* in front of your *face* for such a goddamn long time? Well, wake up!"


"Oh, let's hear it. Tell me straight, Scully. Do I disgust you? Is it *that* bad a proposition? Or that funny? Is this all some sort of mind game that you're playing? Does it *amuse* you to know that I've been sitting next to you for all these years, *dying* for you? Well, I sure hope it does. At least then *one* of us will be getting something out of it."

"Shut up."

"I'm no masochist, Scully. I don't want to play the counterpart to your sadism."

"Shut up."

"So tell me something. Explain it all to me. Where do I stand?"

"Mulder, shut the hell up!" Her voice was sharp and loud, piercing through the silence of the harbor. When she next spoke, her words were softer. "I never wanted to screw with your mind. You're the only one doing that. I don't have a way of reading your mind. How was I supposed to know what you were thinking? Despite what you seem to think, you never made your feelings clear. Not at all. For every sexual crack you made toward me, for every tender word, there were ten other times you abandoned me, ignored me, or went off with someone else. Sure, we almost kissed. Once. But you never tried again. And how about this name: Diana Fowley? Ring any bells? Now just *try* to tell me that's not conflicting evidence. I never knew where I stood with you. You seemed to change your mind every fifteen minutes. If I ever seemed cold or unwilling to believe in your 'deeper emotions,' it was only because I had more reasons *not* to believe than I had reasons *to* believe."

"Scully, I never…"

"And to think that you could so easily go from me to Diana… that doesn't exactly indicate any sort of loyalty."

"I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"Are you?"

"Scully, I… I'm just sorry. About everything. I never meant to blow up at you. You just have to understand. Maybe you didn't know then. I can see that. But now you do. I… I love you. And when I saw… you know… I just… I thought that all my hopes were being smashed to pieces. That's a lot to take in." His pulse was racing from the terror of saying the three words he had just uttered to his partner.

Scully gently touched his hand. "Mulder… I'm sorry, too. I guess you just got me defensive. I didn't mean to get upset. Like I said, I wasn't looking for a fight. I just wanted to set you straight. Because it was *important* to me that you didn't think I was anything other than what you thought I was. So that you didn't stop trying, if trying was what you wanted to do. I wanted to keep from losing you, just in case I had you." She paused, and her voice dropped. "I love you, too."

He caressed her hand with his thumb, and she turned her face up to his. He bent over and kissed her gently, tenderly, then pulled away. "Buckle up, it's time to head back into the heart of Metropolis."



Amid the soft noise of the restaurant, Special Agent Fox Mulder raised his glass in a toast. "Our week in Metropolis. What a long, strange trip it's been."

"I'll drink to that," commented Lois, and did. Clark, Maggie, Scully, and Toby followed suit.

"Wish I could've been here to see that," Maggie said with a grin. "Sounds like you guys had quite an adventure here."

Lois and Scully exchanged a glance. "You could say that," murmured Scully.

"At least we've got things straightened out now," Clark concluded, putting an arm around his fiancee. "And hey, it's even better than before. For some of us."

"Speaking of better than before, how was your trip?" Lois asked Maggie and Toby.

"Mmm… excellent," replied Toby, snuggling into her girlfriend's embrace.

Maggie grinned. "You think it's rouge that put that color on her cheeks?" The table erupted into laughter.

"Seriously, though," said Clark to the agents, "we couldn't be happier for you two."

"Not as happy as we are. I'm glad you're not upset about that whole thing, though. Sorry I overreacted."

"It's okay. I didn't believe you," Clark replied.

Lois grinned wryly and elbowed him surreptitiously.

"I didn't *completely* believe you," he amended. "I guess I was a little bit nervous. I didn't want to think that… well…" he made a disgusted face.

"No offense taken," Maggie announced magnanimously.

"Oops. None meant, of course."

"Of course," Toby echoed, grinning.

"Well," said Mulder, "it's getting late, and we've got a plane to catch." The three couples stood to take their leave.

"It was great seeing you again," Lois said to Mulder, hugging him gently.

"Yeah… You know, you're the first of my ex-girlfriends that Scully's approved of."

"You'd better watch that," Clark said. "Nobody needs their ex's to be approved by the person they're with. Weird psychological baggage, you know."

"Well, I'm the expert on that," Mulder replied.

Lois then embraced Scully. "It was great meeting you, Dana. You're going to have to come back and visit— and I expect to see you at my wedding. Both of you."

"We'll be there," Scully promised just as Clark exclaimed, "*Your* wedding?"

They said their goodbyes, paid the bill, and left Dooley's, Mulder and Scully to the hotel to pick up their luggage, Maggie and Toby to the apartment they shared, and Lois and Clark to Clark's apartment.


Lois collapsed on the couch and sighed. "This has been one of the weirdest weeks of my life."

Clark lifted her legs briefly, sat down, and replaced them in his lap. "I know what you mean."

She met his gaze squarely. "Are you okay now? With Mulder, I mean?"

"Yeah… I guess there could be worse things than an old lover. Besides, he's a nice enough guy. A little weird, maybe."

"I noticed you still winced when I hugged him."

"You saw that?"


"All right, all right. But really, Lois. I got over Lex Luthor, didn't I? I think I can handle Fox Mulder."

"Point taken."

"But what I really want to know…"


"What exactly *was* it that you were wearing when Mulder 'caught' you and Scully?"

"Uh uh. You're going to have to wait for that one."

"You sure about that?" he said with a grin, moving gracefully so that instead of sitting underneath her legs, he was completely positioned over her body. "You real sure?"

She brushed a soft kiss against his lips since they were so near, and he pulled her into a harder one. She turned slightly so that both of them dropped off the couch and onto the floor, with Lois on top. Then she pulled away and took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm sure." She stood up and resumed her position on the couch.

Clark smiled bemusedly. "I think something just went terribly wrong."

"Don't sweat it, we've just got a few weeks left till the wedding."

"That's almost forever."

"Hmm…" Lois acknowledged, then paused. "What do you suppose Dana and Mulder are doing?"

Clark laughed. "Get out of my apartment," he commanded.

She grinned and waggled her eyebrows at him. "Make me."

"Don't tempt me," he said meanacingly, advancing toward her.

With a giggle, she jumped off the couch and ran out of the living room. He shot after her with super-speed and pinned her in his arms two feet above the floor.

"That was definitely cheating," Lois complained.

"Do you mind?"

She considered it for a moment, then smiled. "No. I suppose it's the only way to go."

"I love you."

She sighed and kissed him in response.


Scully smiled as she gazed out of the small, cold window of the plane. Her partner's head was heavy on her shoulder, but for once, she didn't mind the discomfort. She turned her head slightly to look at their entwined fingers. It was a beautiful sight. After everything they'd been through to get there, it was such a relief to finally be able to relax into a comfortable embrace with the man she loved.

Although usually unable to sleep on airplanes, she tilted her head to rest against Mulder's and closed her eyes, just to be close to him. She thought momentarily of a small bag tucked into her luggage. Mulder had seen it, of course— but he hadn't been looking closely. And so, she had a feeling he was going to be surprised when they finally got back to DC.

Everything was different now. And she had a feeling that her life was just now starting to really begin.


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