Distractions 1/4

Distractions
Co-authored with Ra Enright
Written October 1995
Rated PG
Synopsis: Mulder falls for an agent-in-training, unaware of her true identity.

Disclaimer: The characters you recognize belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Television. No infringement is intended. Some of the characters and situations are my own.


“All right, everyone, listen up.” The man standing at the front of the classroom stood straight and yelled for attention. When he got it, he frowned.

“First of all, let’s get one thing straight–I don’t want to be here any more than you do. But I have no choice in the matter, and neither do you.” He twitched the bandage on his shoulder and continued. “The Powers That Be in the Bureau, and the head men here at Quantico, told me to teach you whatever I could, because I’m no good to anyone until this–” he pointed to the gauze covering the bullet wound, “–is healed. So I am required to teach you.”

A few of the older students groaned, envisioning pictures of Bigfoot. They knew ‘Spooky’ Mulder. He smiled wryly. “I’m not going to try to convince you that aliens exist–the Bureau would have my head. But. . . ” he fixed his gaze on all of them, “I am going to convince you that your duty is not to what is right, or even to the Bureau. An agent’s first duty is to the truth.”

There were a few whispers–he cut them off. “First lesson–any one of you will, at one point or another, get into some sort of jam. Perhaps you’re captured by the criminals you’re chasing, perhaps you screwed up the paperwork.” A few nervous trainees laughed. “And that is where an agent’s second duty comes in, because at that point I can guarantee you’ll be praying for one thing–your partner,” he said seriously. “Your second duty is to your partner.”

A few of them eyed him askance, so he continued. “You have to trust your partner, implicitly, with your life.

“Case in point–two agents are investigating a series of murders. One agent, acting on an inside tip–and you will get them, trust me–decides to leave his partner behind. He does not tell his partner where he is going, or what he will do there. He simply leaves a note letting his partner know he’s gone. In this case, to Alaska.

“Once there, he is overpowered by the suspect he was in pursuit of. Severely injured, he was dumped on the ice and left to freeze.”

Quite a few of the agents-in-training winced. He noted with pleasure that three in the front row were still impassive. One raised her hand. “What sort of injuries did the agent receive?”

“You really want to know?” Mulder asked. “Three cracked and two bruised ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and numerous bruises. Slight concussion, severe hypothermia, and one hell of a bruised ego.” This time, everyone winced.

“Did he die?” the girl asked.

“No, actually.” Mulder paced the front of the classroom. “Luckily for this one, his partner also had inside sources and managed to find him. Almost too late.”

“So why did he leave him behind?”

“Her actually.” Mulder corrected the girl. “He left her behind because he felt his case was too personal–and unofficial. If she had come with him, she could have stood under a reprimand. And the case he was taking on was dangerous.”

“Sounds like he was an idiot to me.”

“He was.” Mulder agreed. “I haven’t done it again since.”

The class sat for a minute. He waited for it to sink in. When the girl blushed, he knew she realized what she’d said.

“I left my partner behind, for personal reasons, and if she hadn’t found me you might be in her class right now instead of mine. I decided for her that she didn’t need to come along, and in doing so I violated my partner’s trust,” he lectured. “Ask Dana Scully about it sometime. I’m sure she’d be glad to inform you of the gory details of my injuries.”

He checked his watch. “Your assignment for the next forty-eight minutes . . . ”

***

He didn’t notice when the allotted hour of class time was up–bent over his temporary desk he didn’t notice the students leaving, until the girl from the beginning of class cleared his throat. He looked up.

“Can I help you?”

“I just. . . ” she stammered. “I wanted to apologize for calling you an idiot, earlier on.” She shifted position. “I. . . I am sorry.”

“I can’t say I’ll forget it, but I can forgive it.” He smiled. “You were right, I was an idiot. But. . .” he shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. Is class over already?”

“Lunch break, sir.”

He winced. Lunch at Quantico cafeteria, where everyone knew who Spooky was, and worse, how to piss him off. It would not be fun.

“I think I’ll get ready for the next batch of meat.” He bent back over his paperwork.

“Would you like me to get you something?” she smiled. He leaned back thoughtfully.

“No thanks.”

“You’re sure.”

“Is there a problem?”

“You just seem a little solitary.”

“You must not have heard about me yet.” He stretched. “Or does the word ‘Spooky’ ring a bell?”

She brushed some bangs out of her eyes and grinned. “Oh, you mean, Spooky, the one who chases UFOs and mutants?”

He nodded.

“Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

“I hate to let you in on a secret, but he’s me.” He waited for her to do a double take.

“Well, then it is a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand. “I’ve followed your work.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”

“Yes, from the beginning of your career–or whatever I could find on it. I read your files on the Tooms case. Excellent work.”

He shook her hand. “Thank you. What’s your name?”

She tossed a lock of blonde hair over her shoulder. “Angela Kent.”

Frustrated, he shuffled his paperwork. She glanced at him with bright blue eyes. When he lifted his head, he found himself locked in her stare.  Scully . . . damn!  “I, uh, Miss Kent, I have to go. It was a pleasure to meet you. I’ll see you in class.” He grabbed a handful of papers and dashed out of the room. Angela watched several stray pages fall from his fist and flutter to the floor.

***

Dana Scully sighed, glancing once again at her watch. He was twenty minutes late.  Even I remember when Quantico’s lunch breaks were.  But then there he was, hustling though the door and plopping down in the booth across from her, breathing heavily.

She tapped her nails on the countertop. “You wouldn’t like it if your students were late to class, would you, Mulder?”

“Most of them will probably drop out.” He made a small effort to smile. “How you doing, Scully? Holding down the fort?”

“Now that the war has started, I’m working on it. How’s the academy?”

“Wonderful,” he replied flatly. He glanced at her. Her red hair hung limply around her face. Her eyes–even he could tell from the distance between them–were painfully bloodshot, and her plum pantsuit was rumpled, as if she had slept in it.  She looks like she just returned from hell.  “Long day?”

She nodded wearily. “Longer night. I got called for a stakeout that took several dreary hours. Turned out the guy had already been arrested.”

“Ouch.” He paused. “You know, you could’ve just slept during your lunch break. You didn’t have to drive all the way here just for me.”

She seemed annoyed by his suggestion. “Mulder, I haven’t seen you in a few days. You’ve been in the hospital and adjusting to here . . . I missed you.”

His effort to smile intensified, and he grinned broadly. “I missed you, too.” He glanced over his menu. “So what looks good?”

***

After a short lunch that left little time for small talk, Scully left, but not without ordering Mulder to visit her on the weekends. “You can even bring a stupid horror flick,” she had added. He made a mental note to find the corniest movie he had before coming up.

Mulder’s morning class wasn’t assigned a title; it was simply for overflow students who could use tips on bureau life in general and who didn’t mind listening to Spooky Mulder rant and rave. The afternoon class, on the other hand, was supposed to be a basic beginner’s course in profiling, Mulder’s specialty.

As he loaded the slides into the slide projector he watched the classroom fill up out of the corner of his eye. A few students looked familiar–including one very familiar looking blonde woman. He turned around just in time to see Angela Kent coming up from behind.

“Agent Mulder, what a surprise.” She grinned. “Maybe next time I ought to just stay here for lunch.”

“Kent, right?” He handed her a file when she held out her hand to shake. “Thanks. Just hold that for me for a minute.”

She looked confused, but did as she was told. “You know, I’ve heard you’re one of the better profilers in the bureau.”

“I was,” he said without pride. “I don’t profile anymore.”

“That’s what I was wondering about. After the Tooms case I haven’t been able to find any profiles by you.” She set the folder on the desk.

“I got sidetracked. Tooms wasn’t even my case.” He carried the slide projector down one row of desks to the back of the room. She followed.

“So you haven’t profiled since then? No wonder I can’t find anything.”

“Can I ask, Miss Kent–”

“Angela.”

“Angela, why you find my career so very interesting?” He turned to face her for a minute.

“Well, it just seems like you haven’t led the average ‘FBI agent’ life.”

He snorted. “That’s true enough.”

“And I’m interested in the cases you investigate.” She leaned forward and steadied the projector on the shelf.

“The X-Files?” he asked as he reached down to plug the cord in.

“Right! Just the idea that something is out there. . . ” she smiled happily. “It excites me.”

“Really.” He filed the remark away for future reference. “How much have you studied the X Files?”

“Not nearly as much as I’d like to,” she replied. “Especially since most of them aren’t exactly standard Quantico training material.”

“No, they aren’t,” he agreed. He squeezed past the students filling the aisles and back down to the front of the room.

“Attention, please!” he yelled, and class began.

***

Last classes at Quantico were scheduled to end at 4:30 to give instructors time to clean up and trainees time to study. Mulder sighed with relief when the clock struck and the class filed out. The last two classes after the lunch session were killers.

Carrying the slim portfolio of files he was planning on reviewing, he closed the room up and locked the door. He turned–

And ran right into Angela.

“We have to stop meeting like this.” She laughed. “Oh, sorry. . . ” She knelt next to him as he picked the files up off the floor. “Hey!” She tapped one finger on the cover of a file. “This is an X-File?”

He nodded and gathered the rest of the files back into the case.

“What’s it about?” she persisted. He paused.

An agent knew better than to go shooting his or her mouth off about the cases they worked on; one never knew just who would be discreet and who wouldn’t. But it wasn’t as if this particular X-file was a matter of national security. His paranoia, however, wasn’t so easily quelled. Did he trust her? She seemed to know about the X-files already, she was interested, and . . .

And what?

She was watching him, waiting for him to say something. Her face was honest-looking and he thought for a minute. If he told her, what would she say? How bad could it get? Pretty damned bad, he reminded himself. She could say he was insane, or she could let Skinner know he wasn’t exactly being closed-mouthed about his assignments. He could get in serious trouble if she told anyone.

He made up his mind.

“Twentieth century mutations. Like Tooms.”

“Really?” Her eyes lit up. “Can I take a look?”

This would really go over the edge. He gently took the file from her hands. “I’m afraid I can’t do that until you’re a full agent. Bureau regs.”

“Oh.” She looked disappointed. “But you could tell me about them, right? Say…over dinner?”

He locked eyes with her. Slowly, he nodded. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride.”

***

“So this guy wasn’t just weird, he was. . . ”

“Neurologically incapable of controlling his impulses. The man couldn’t help but hurt people. Not much of an X-file, but still a study in neurology,” Mulder finished.

Angela stared at him with something akin to awe. “That’s incredible.”

“It was my partner, actually.” He chewed on his pasta. “She was the one who caught it on his hospital admittance records. If it hadn’t been for her we never would have found him.”

“Sounds like a smart lady. Even if she didn’t buy your psychic theory.” Angela eyed his plate. “Can I have a bite?”

“Oh, sure.” He pushed it at her. “I’m full anyways.”

“Thanks for letting me grill you like this,” she said around a mouthful of noodles. “I’m really interested in this sort of thing.”

“It’s nice to have someone to talk to about it,” he admitted. “Scully isn’t exactly enthusiastic about my theories, usually.”

“Well, everyone has their blind spots.”

Scully? Blind?  Mulder almost took offense, until he realized she’d meant it as a generalization, not some slam against his partner’s capabilities. The waiter broke the silence by presenting the check. Mulder grabbed it before Angela could reach out. She protested.

“Hey, I’m the one who suggested dinner.”

“Yeah, but I’m the one pulling a full agent’s salary for a minor instructor’s job. Let me handle it.”

“All right,” she pouted. “But only if you let me treat you sometime.”

“Fair enough. Don’t you know a gentleman always pays the bill?”

“That, my friend, is a good thirty years out of date,” she retorted. “So…see you tomorrow?”

“Bright and early. I’ll drop you at the academy so you can get your car.”

He pondered, as he drove home, just what it would be like to have a partner like that, full time, who didn’t question his every move. Probably too good to be true.

***

“Lex? Lex, I’m here!”

Angela threw her car keys on the nearby table, watching them skitter across the surface and run into a potted African violet. She never thought of her brother as the flower-type.  Must be from a girl,  she decided. Then she laughed at the thought.  Lex, dating? Yeah, right.

The dark-haired man hiding in the shadows of the living room spoke. “You’re late.”

“I know; I’m sorry.” She slipped off her high heels and set them on the rug. “I had a dinner date, last minute thing, you know.”

“I’m sure. With who?”

She padded into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, searching for something to eat. Her brother, barely home to buy food, often had old cartons of Chinese. Without luck, she grabbed the phone book and glanced for the number to Pizza Hut. “He’s an instructor at the academy. Really a great guy. Ever hear of Fox Mulder?”

His eyebrows rose at that. “Wow.”

“What?”

“No, nothing, Angela, just . . . thinking.” He stepped out of the shadows then, revealing the unmistakable figure of Alex Krycek.

***

Two weeks later . . .

Mulder rubbed his temples tiredly. He hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before; cable had its pluses and minuses. His morning class had not gone well. He was too irritable to make much sense, so he babbled on about how important a partner was in the line of work. Most of the students were bored by his repetition of the day before’s topic–all except for Angela Kent.

The intelligent woman with the bright blue eyes seemed to pay careful attention to every little detail. He was slightly confused. Most people joined the bureau for the betterment of mankind; they wanted to make a difference involving a bit more depth than local police departments. But not her. She appeared interested in everything he said. Nearly every woman he’d ever met looked at his passion for the paranormal as a bizarre and uncomfortable aspect in the relationship.  Definitely not her.

And not Scully either.

It being a Friday, he was driving up to her apartment to watch movies after work. He found one entitled Dracula Sucks and thought it was appropriate. He was glad he was going; as she had said the other day at lunch, the times they could visit each other were few and far between, and he really did miss her. He wondered how the other agents were treating her. Hopefully all right–he wasn’t sure whether she’d tell him or not. He hoped she would, but he doubted it.

His thoughts drifted between Angela and Scully while his profiling class took a pop quiz that he wrote up the previous evening. And his reverie went overtime as his students sat there quietly, all of them having finished the test several minutes before.

A loud alarm went off, buzzing a note of reality into Mulder’s brain. He jumped, his eyes focusing in on Angela’s face. “What is that?”

“Fire alarm, sir,” a student–Andrew Lowe, Mulder recalled–mentioned, standing up and heading for the door, followed by fellow classmates.

“They have fire drills here?” Mulder frowned, holding up the rear with Angela.

“Of course. Government policy,” she teased.

“Ah, yes.” He was still stunned.

A few moments after they had exited the building, they were let back in. Mulder graded their quizzes, secretly joyful that Angela had the highest grade. He returned them, and he had just finished going over the answers when the bell rang. Confused, he waved his hand. “Class is dismissed.” And, once again, everyone but Kent filed out, happy to be going home.

“Thank you, Agent Mulder, even though you neglected to lecture today.”

“Think they enjoyed not having ‘Spooky’ Mulder run off at the mouth?”

“I know *I* wouldn’t have minded but . . . yes, some of them probably did.” She hugged her books closer to her chest before sliding them into her backpack. “So what are you up to tonight?”

“Me? Oh, you know, going on with my dull life . . . no, actually, tonight will not be dull.” He smiled. “Not dull at all. Good afternoon, Angela.” He shoved some files into his briefcase and headed out.

***

“Who is it?” She knew, but she wanted to hear his response.

Mulder found an answer quickly. “Judge Ito. Would you happen to know where the Mark Fuhrman tapes are?”

Scully undid her latch and opened the door, smiling.  Finally, she thought.  I see Mulder off duty. What am I saying? Out of work clothes is a more appropriate term.  His favorite sweatshirt–a Redskins one–and blue jeans fit nicely with the casual atmosphere called Scully’s apartment. “Nope. Come in.”

He stepped inside, looking around. “Why are there so many plants around here? Are you converting this place into a garden or a greenhouse?”

“I’m trying to avert ozone depletion.” She grinned, locking the door again. “So what did you bring?”

He held up the Blockbuster video. “Dracula Sucks.”

“You’re unbelievable! Where do you find such ridiculous things?”

He pretended to be hurt. “I find them intellectually stimulating.”

“I’m sure you do.”

***

“Intellectually stimulating.” Scully murmured to herself. “Way to go, Mulder.”

“What, it wasn’t good for you?” He grinned. “I warned you it was going to be tacky.”

“Tacky, not porn. You’re incorrigible,” she scolded. “If I hadn’t already shot you once, I might consider doing it again.”

“I’m wounded, Scully.”

“You will be. . .”

“Cease! Desist! Shalt kill me!” He held his chest in mock horror. “What’s your video pick for the evening?”

She held up a well-worn video case. “Chaplin.”

“You must be kidding.”

“Nope.” She popped Mulder’s tape out of the VCR and put hers in. “Sit down,” she ordered as he started to stand up, “Stay.”

“Woof.”

The small golden dog sleeping next to Mulder on the couch woke up and started yapping. Scully grabbed him as he started to attack Mulder’s sleeve. “Queequeg! Bad dog!”

He glanced at her. “Queequeg?”

“Well, what would you have called him?”

Mulder shook his head. “Never mind. Got any popcorn?”

***

They ended up both falling asleep halfway through the movie, Scully’s head resting on Mulder’s shoulder. Queequeg sat on Scully’s lap, yipping occasionally in his sleep.

As the movie ended and the TV turned to static, Scully half-woke, not really wanting to move yet. Mulder shifted slightly next to her and murmured something.

“Hm?” she asked.

“Angela. . .” he muttered again. Scully sighed.

Angela, hm? Well, that certainly was a surprise. ‘Spooky’ Mulder didn’t date. He stuck to porn and one-night-stands and protesting that he really did have a life, when she knew he didn’t.

His private life was really not any of her business, but she couldn’t help feel a little. . . Jealous? No, Dana Kate, that’s would be a little extreme. Concerned? That was better. She wondered if she had reached ‘girlfriend’ status yet, or if she was just someone he knew. . . Really, Dana, why do you care? As long as he’s happy.

Jealous was definitely the word.

But he was still here right now, on her couch, watching TV with her, which meant it couldn’t be too serious. . . Could it?

***

Alex grinned quietly to himself. The old Quantico building was so unsecured, it was laughable. Of course, when one had special training, that changed the whole picture. And he’d spent enough time sneaking around, he’d learned to walk the halls of his old academy blind. Not that this time he had to.

One had simply to pull the right lever in the circuit breaker to set off the fire bell, and of course since everyone there was such a bureaucrat, nobody bothered to check if there was actually a drill scheduled for that day.

He’d watched the students file out of the building from the front tinted window, then ducked low and scrabbled to Mulder’s classroom. Too bad the man was such a paranoiac. He’d searched cleanly and thoroughly, but there wasn’t any of the info he wanted.

After the ‘fiasco’ with Cancerman. . . Alex didn’t do government work anymore. Not the kind that They did, anyway. Of course, Cancerman was just one faction, but few agencies wanted an operative who’d screwed up on almost every mission he’d been assigned. Thankfully, one man had wanted to take him on, try him out, and here he was. Cancerman knew, and he knew better than to try to kill him. If Krycek died, the evidence on that tape would be splayed over every newspaper from here to Tasmania.

He glanced carefully over the photos he’d just developed of the papers Mulder had left behind. Nothing. Damn.

Well, he hadn’t found anything this time. But he still had Angela. He still had the chance to play the game, maybe win some respect in this damned burg.

Smiling, he picked up some Chinese food for Angie. He’d have to hold his little sister’s favor if he wanted her help.

End of Part 1

“The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
–Plato

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