By Jeannine Ackerson
Rating: PG for language.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters portrayed therein are property of C. Carter, Fox Broadcasting, 1013 Prod., etc. No copyright infringement is intended.
Relationship: UST to MSR. Anti-relationshippers should probably skip this one.
Summary: The Annual FBI softball game leads Scully and Mulder into a squeeze play. Literally.
Hi everybody! This is my romantic contribution to the post World Series fever. I just thought that Mulder and Scully might play baseball the waythey solve X-Files . . . with a passion. <g> (FYI: I wrote this as if "Home" had never happened, so I could keep Mulder hating baseball.) This is pure fluff, and in a few cases probably out of character. But anyway, on with our story . . .
"I'm not going. I hate baseball."
"It's not baseball, it's softball. And nobody *hates* baseball."
"Same thing, and I do *hate* it. I've hated it ever since high school and the coach dropped me from the junior varsity team because he felt that I couldn't field worth a damn. And I'm *not* going," Mulder stated determinedly.
They stared at each other. The battle lines between the two agents who stood only feet away from each other in their basement office were clearly drawn, as if in neon paint. When Fox Mulder put his mind to something, there was no giving in. But when Dana Scully wanted something, she wasn't about to give up.
Literally it was an FBI version of the Mexican standoff.
No matter what though, someone *was* going to give in. It was just a matter of time. He tried his puppy-dog look. She narrowed her eyes. He frowned, and did his best to look pathetic. She crossed her arms across her chest. Neither of them was going to give in without a great deal of compromise from the other.
Finally Scully pulled out the most dangerous weapon in her arsenal, and let loose.
"Please Mulder," she said, her voice softer than usual.
He was dead. He knew it. When she said his name like that, with that tone of voice. Then he got caught in her liquid blue eyes, and he was lost. How the hell am I supposed to say 'no' to her when she looks at me like that, he thought. Of course it wasn't like he would say 'no' to her, no matter *what* she asked of him. He had a standing list of things he'd jump to say 'yes' to.
"I promise you'll enjoy yourself," she continued.
"Really?" he replied, his voice rising and he gave her his famous leer.
She sighed and rolled her eyes. It served her right for saying that. But a part of her mind started thinking about *what* exactly he had in mind that he would enjoy. And if she'd enjoy it as well. Don't go there Dana, she mentally chided herself.
"Besides," she added, "they'll have all you favorite junk food catered in . . . hot dogs, potato chips, beer, the works."
Then she smiled. That radiant grin that just about lit up every part of his soul. God, she's going to make me do this, and now I don't care. As long as she's with me. It could be worse.
"Alright, alright I'll go. But I'm holding you to your promise. If I don't enjoy myself, you'll be in trouble," he acquiesced, giving her a roguish grin.
"Then I guess I'll have to make sure you do," she said lightly, barely audible to his ears. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn she was serious.
"I'll pick you up at eight."
With that resolved, they both found their way back to the paperwork that littered their desks.
It looked like a damned family reunion for tall, athletic, mysterious men who solved crimes for a living, he thought with some distaste. There were female agents in attendance, but they were a major minority.
No wonder Scully wanted me to come.
While she made her way through the crowds, Mulder trailed along behind her. Watching the petite red-haired figure of his partner walking in front of him, he took note of her no-nonsense attire. The hair in the ponytail; the white t-shirt with the FBI logo on the back, the blue jean shorts. Actually, the shorts were the things that were driving him to distraction. There was just too much pale leg exposed for his heart rate to keep on an even keel.
"Ok Mulder, after lunch they're assigning us to teams for the softball game. And I've got Agent Cherry's assurance that we'll be put on the same team. So no hedging."
She'd turned to look at him; his dark hair looking unruly, the blue jeans clinging in just the right places, the light blue t-shirt that barely disguised the lean muscles of his chest. Gotta stop thinking like that, she chastised herself.
"Scully," he whined, not wanting to really look like he was giving in just yet.
"Mulder, you promised. Let's just get some food and we'll discuss it later."
The agents wandered past the picnic tables that lined the grassy area near the softball field. About ten yards away, the catered food was laid out on the tables beneath several tents. When they went through the lines of agents and their families, Mulder was decidedly pleased that they did indeed have his favorites.
Scooping up a helping of potato salad and picking up a couple of hot dogs, he escaped the lines to load them up. Scully had been a little more conservative, settling for more green salad than anything else. She found him piling ketchup, mustard, and relish on his hot dogs.
"What, no onions?" she remarked humorously.
"Nah, I never know when I might need my breath fresh," he teased, and she quickly turned away, walking for the tables, a couple of sodas in hand for them.
Now why did she do that, he wondered.
As she walked, she hoped the other agents that saw her attributed the flush in her face to the warm weather. God, how does he get to me like that, she thought.
Finally she stopped under a tall tree, and sat, conspicuously avoiding the other agents. That way the snide 'Spooky' and 'Ice Queen' remarks were too far away to bother them too much.
You mean bother Mulder, don't you Dana, she asked herself. It was his feelings she was most worried about, not her own. She was almost used to the remarks and the jokes. Almost.
"So Scully, I guess we're segregating ourselves on purpose?" he remarked slightly humorously. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize she'd put some space between them and the rest of the Bureau. And the reason for it was clear as crystal She was trying to protect him.
He hated the fact that she was subjected to the same treatment as he was, but she seemed to shrug it off when it was directed at her. But when it was being sent his direction . . . hell, she'd told of Tom Colton all those years back. And Colton had been her friend from the academy. She'd given up her chance for advancement with the VCS that day, and he still didn't know why.
After they'd finished their lunch and had rested for a while, they heard Skinner's voice over the din of people chatting and laughing. He announced the game to start, and called all the agents who had signed up to play to come to the field.
"Ok Mulder, softball time," Scully announced getting up and turning around to reach down and take hold of his hands, pulling him up.
"You're going to make me do this, aren't you?" he questioned, knowing that she was.
"Yep, and you're going to like it Fox Mulder, even if I have to take drastic steps to assure that you do," she explained evenly, but with a hint of promise.
The little catch in her voice as she said that, the tone of her words sent a chill up his spine and warmth everywhere else. He sort of wanted to find out what kind of drastic measures she was into.
"Come on," she said again, dragging him along behind her.
As they approached the field, Agent Mark Darren was rounding up his players, including Mulder and Scully.
"Jamison, Harrison and Martin are in the outfield. Marcus used to catch for his college team, so he's there. Scully, what position do you prefer?" Darren asked, not giving Mulder a second glance.
As it was, Mulder was struggling to keep a straight face. In any other context, that question would have gotten Darren both a reprimand for sexual harassment from his ASAC as well as an icy stare from Scully. But on the softball field, she simply smiled.
"First base Darren. And before you say anything, I *can* play first. I wouldn't ask for it if I couldn't."
"So, I guess that means you want second Mulder?" Darren said, finally addressing him for the first time.
"Well, we can't split up a team, now can we?" he replied in a clipped tone, and followed Scully out to their respective bases.
Picking up the gloves on the ground, the rest of their team fanned out to their places, and the game was underway.
Quickly Darren, the rest of the team and Mulder found out that Dana Scully had indeed been telling the truth. She *could* play first base. Her catching ability had sent their opponents to the field much sooner than anyone would have guessed. As they headed into the dug out, Mulder leaned over conspiratorially.
"You really can play first Scully. I'm impressed," Mulder whispered, nearly directly into her ear, and she had to suppress a thrilled shudder.
"I had two brothers who spent their summers playing baseball Mulder, and no one ever wanted to play first, so . . .," she explained analytically, then turned a bit to catch the admiring look on his face. "As the years went on, I ended up playing first because I was good at it, rather than because no one else wanted the position. It drove my mom crazy."
The game went back and forth, with everyone having a couple of times up to bat. Somehow the score had stayed even, and with playing a shortened game, the immediacy of shutting out the other team's last chance at bat. They were down by two runs, and there was no way they wanted to try and make up more than those two runs in the bottom of the half.
Darren had pitched well so far, but he was tired. Instead of the fast, edged pitches, the slow nearly straight pitch was hit right into the center field. Once the man was on first though, Scully wanted to get him off. When the runner had started off for second, Darren looked over his shoulder, and realized Scully was willing to try and pick him off. In a blinding throw, she had the ball in her glove, and was reaching for the fleeing runner.
Then Mulder was heading towards them, and she tossed it perfectly over the head of the base runner, landing right in his glove. Realizing his route had been cut off, the agent turned back for first again, only to find Scully right in front of him. It was only moments later when the hapless runner was caught sandwiched between the two partners, being tagged out.
"Good job," Scully said to Mulder, reaching out to take the ball from his glove.
"Good execution partner," he replied, snagging her wrist in his grasp briefly, the long fingers gliding along her skin. It only lasted for a second, but it was enough for her to turn away quickly and lob a bad throw back to Darren.
In his own right, Mulder had to consciously remember which direction his base was in. He watched as Scully weaved her way to her own base. Ok, he thought, I know how that effected me, and from that scene, I would swear she felt something as well. But, what do I want to do about it?
Swiftly the last two outs were racked up, and they were back in the dug out, with their last chance at bat. Jamison was up first, and was quickly struck out.
Martin was next, and after a few balls, managed a line drive, getting him onto first. That brought Mulder up to bat. As he reached for the aluminum bat, Scully suddenly put a hand on his arm, and the electric shock they'd felt earlier returned with a vengeance.
"Mulder, take the wood. It's heavier and you should get a better cut with it."
Nodding, he instead picked up an old wood bat, and headed up to the plate. He'd watched McNeely all day, and had figured out what pitch he was throwing by the slight gestures he made before he pitched. And from the roll of his shoulder, Mulder knew it was going to be low. He let it sail by his knees, garnering his first ball call.
Wait for it Mulder, Scully thought to herself, standing up and leaning into the cyclone fencing, a hand laced into the metal.
Wait for it, Mulder told himself, grinding his tennis shoe into the dusty ground.
Then the pitch was thrown, and he knew it was right, and he let loose a swing, connecting with the ball, sending it low into the outfield. Scrambling for it in the outfield, Martin was already over halfway to second, and Mulder was at first before the fielders could even decide where to throw to. All in all, the bases were almost loaded, and the winning run was coming up to bat.
It was Scully.
All those years of playing with the boys had taught her a lot, and so when the outfielders saw her, they moved in a bit more than they would have if she was a man. And that was just what she wanted.
Mulder took note of the advancing infield, and knew what they thought, that she couldn't hit. Even though she'd cracked a line drive along the base line earlier, they still saw a woman at the plate, and didn't realize what they were up against. But you're going to show them, aren't you Scully, he thought with a wicked grin.
She let the first one go by, and took a weak swing at the second, and let the third go past as well. I think I've lulled them into enough of a false sense of security, she surmised mentally, and got ready to let loose with the real thing. It was going to be blissfully easy.
The pitch was low and to the inside, and she knew it was coming. It was a sucker pitch. The kind her brothers liked to throw at her. Except she liked them. In fact, she hit them best. And when she connected, she could feel with the follow-thru that it was bound for the "fence line."
Martin and Mulder were off before the ball was halfway to the outfield. Judging from the angle and trajectory, the outfielders were going to have to do some running to catch up with it. Martin was already past third and heading home while Mulder had hit second and Scully was leaving first. By the time the outfielder was throwing the ball to second, Mulder was nearly home, and Scully was well on her way to third.
Then it was a judgement call. She was rounding third, and Mulder was standing just on the other side of home plate. We was waving her in. And she'd never been one to say no to Fox Mulder. So putting every last bit of speed she still possessed, she headed home, barely escaping both sliding in and the two seconds too late throw from second base.
The roar of triumph from the bench was deafening. And somehow in the heat of the moment, Scully had jumped forward and been caught up in Mulder's arms. All around them their teammates were yelling, shaking hands, giving friendly hugs and the like. With the celebration on the part of the victors and the good humor of the losers, no one had noticed that Mulder and Scully had yet to let
loose of each other. Slowly he had loosened his grip, allowing her to slide down his chest to the ground. And the friction that caused just about did both of them in.
"Well, we won," she said lightly, fighting the feelings his arms wrapped around her produced.
"Yeah, we did," he replied, a bit distractedly. Hell, if anything could distract me, it would certainly be holding an armful of Scully, he thought.
"So, did you enjoy yourself?"
"Sort of . . ." he responded, finally letting her go as he realized just what was going on. Where this conversation could be heading. His eyes locked onto hers.
"Is there something we should have done that we didn't?" she asked guardedly. She was trying not to read too much into all this. The touches. The glances. The very clear innuendoes. The question she had now was whether or not he was teasing her like always, of if there was something more to it than that. When she looked into his eyes, she felt overwhelmed. Maybe I'm imaging it, she thought, I have to be imagining it.
Did she just say what I think she said, Mulder wondered in semi-shock. He couldn't have addled his brain *that* much today, and he hadn't even had a beer. Yet it sounded like . . . But there was no way he was going to pursue it there on the softball field.
"Yeah, but I don't think we can do it here," he said quickly, putting a hand to her back just like if they were working. Not if we don't want to get arrested he added mentally.
Now very curious, Scully let him lead her past the other agents, beyond the picnic area and towards the parking lot she'd left her car in. It was just on the other side of a stand of trees, and well out of sight and earshot of the Bureau's finest.
With a sudden inspiration, he took hold of her arm and swiftly pulled her towards a huge tree. Backing her up against it, his arms caged her there, pinning her in place. He knew what he was doing was dangerous, that if he'd guessed wrong, it could be all over, but he had to know.
"What are you doing?" Scully asked quietly, even though no one but Mulder was around to hear her. She was just a little nervous of this, of him being this close, and the look on his face. She was certain that the only thing that was keeping her standing was sheer willpower.
Slowly their eyes met, and both were a bit surprised. Where have I seen that look before, they silently wondered to themselves. Then it hit them. They'd seen the same look in their own mirrors when they had thought about the other. The totally lost look that was easily deciphered to be that of someone in love.
Except they had never seen it on the other before. Never shown it to the other.
"I'm enjoying myself. You promised me that you would make sure I would. You wouldn't go back on your word, now would you Scully," he said softly with a deeper voice than she'd ever heard from him. He moved closer to her face, his lips barely millimeters away from hers.
"Well Mulder, never let it be said I would deny you your enjoyment," she answered with difficulty. The words had barely gotten out, and had sounded breathy and ill formed to her ears.
"Thanks Scully, I new I could count on you," he whispered, and then brought his lips down to hers.
That first contact was a hundred times more potent and powerful than the small touches that had electrified their skin and nerves. This was like being doused in liquid fire. There was nothing they could do but fall into it, into each other. His hands soon moved to her waist, pulling her closer but still held against the tree, while her hands held his head to her. Seconds dragged on, and became minutes, with their only concession to reality beyond themselves being the pauses to take in air through their noses, refusing to pry their lips long enough to gasp in breath.
Finally they eased back, and took a long moment to regard one another.
"Mulder," she said carefully, her voice hushed, "what just happened here?"
"I think Scully, that," he replied with equal caution, "*that* was three years of being in love with each other finally asserting itself."
"Oh, I see," she said, smiling that stunning smile that he loved. "So, does that
mean what I think it does?"
"Maybe," he remarked, giving her his own wonderful smile in return. "I think we should just go back to your place and see exactly what depths of emotion the last three years have stored up."
"I could give you a hint Mulder, but I think you probably have an idea yourself."
"Definitely. Let's go home."
And as they proceeded to the car, with his arm wrapped around her waist, and her head on his shoulder, they planned to do just that.
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