Special thanks to Ann McConnell for the gorgeous cover art!
Summary: Stuck in a crowded conference room, what are two bored agents to do?
It was crowded, it was hot, it was boring and it was almost over.
Two solid days of meetings, handouts and keynote speakers had taken their toll. There were two hundred people crammed into a space designed for eighty and none of them were listening to the final hour of the final lecture of this conference.
The day had started so well - stale bagels and canned orange juice for breakfast and a boring lecture before an equally boring lunch. Another lecture after lunch and then, their final meeting of the day - in a room with no air conditioning. The room was full of men and women in shirt sleeves, their jackets discarded after five minutes. Her own jacket was draped over the back of her chair next to Mulder's. If she, along with every other agent in the room, hadn't needed these education hours for her personnel file, she would not have stayed. She and Mulder had been crowded with three other people at a two-person table for most of the afternoon and now, as she checked her watch for the third time in five minutes, they were an hour from freedom.
As she let her hand drop back into her lap, Mulder's fingers reached for her arm and picked it up. He gently twisted her hand around so he could read her watch. She watched his face, waiting for the expression he would pull when he realized how slowly time was moving.
Still holding her arm, he raised his own and looked at his watch. She felt a grin tug at her mouth as he dramatically looked at his watch, then back at hers, and then back again. A puzzled expression crossed his face. He lifted his wrist to his ear then pulled back and looked at it. He shook his wrist and then held the watch to his ear again. He looked at her solemnly and shrugged. He repeated the motions with her arm, lifting her wrist to his ear and pretending to listen for the ticking. Then he looked back at her watch, took a good grip on her forearm, and shook her arm frantically in the air, her hand flailing wildly. She desperately choked back a burst of laughter. He was still smiling back at her when he suddenly dropped her arm and nudged her with his elbow, tilting his chin toward the front of the room.
She followed the direction of his gaze and realized that people were watching her. She instantly wiped the grin from her face when a voice called out.
"Yes? You had a question?"
"Uh, no. I'm sorry, I didn't," she replied as she jabbed her elbow hard into her partner's side, his shoulders shaking with barely repressed laughter. "I'll get you," she muttered under her breath as the lecturer continued and people turned their attention back to him.
"Dear Diary," she heard him say, "today my heart leap . . ." the rest came out on an exaggerated explosion of air as she dug her elbow into his side again, aiming more carefully this time. They directed evil glares at each other for a moment, eyes laughing, and then turned back to pretend to listen to the lecturer.
After a few minutes she felt his hand curl around her elbow and waggle it.
"Hey Scully, check this out," he whispered loudly.
She glanced over at him and saw that he had turned one of the handouts over. Drawn on the back was a caricature of the lecturer, bad tie and all. The figure had a huge head, a scribbled moustache and Mulder had reproduced the exact pattern of the man's hair loss on the dome of his head. She smirked, rolled her eyes and turned back toward the front. She should have known his tolerance for boredom would reach its limit.
A few minutes later she felt that tug at her elbow again.
"Hey, Scully," he whispered again.
"Mulder," she said in a threatening undertone.
"C'mon Scully, check it out."
She looked over to find herself confronted with his fist. Actually, the side of his loosely fisted hand on which he had painstakingly drawn a face, including an exaggeratedly large nose, a mole on its right "cheek" and his thumb as the bottom lip.
His hand began to writhe as he tried to make the face talk.
"What do you call a Martian on Saturn?" he asked out of the corner of his mouth as he moved his thumb up and down.
"I don't know," she whispered.
"Lost," the face said. "What do you call an alien magician?"
"Mulder," she warned.
"My name is not Mulder. Are you giving up?"
"Yeah, I'm giving up. What do you call an alien magician?"
"A flying sorcerer. What has six -"
The guy on her other side, apparently not enjoying Mulder's alien humor, leaned over and hissed, "Shhh!" She faced the front again, but he nudged her elbow to get her attention. He hadn't finished his ventriloquist act.
That hand wrapped around her elbow and began to waggle her arm in earnest. She clamped her elbow to her side, pinning his hand and forcing him to stop.
"Knock it off, Mulder!"
She suddenly felt like she was trying to keep a child quiet in church and with an amused shake of her head she released her grip on his hand and turned her attention to the front again. After a few minutes of silence, she figured he'd either fallen asleep or had finally begun to pay attention.
That's when she felt his fingers move and she realized that he'd never removed his hand from her arm. She lifted her elbow away from her side to release him, but to her surprise, he held on and then firmly pulled her elbow back where it had been. He shifted his hand slightly until he could wrap it all the way around her arm, his fingers meeting his thumb across the crease of her inner elbow. She felt the shock all the way through her when he gently squeezed.
She stared straight ahead, but all her attention was focused on his hand. His thumb swept across the back of her arm, rasping sweetly along her smooth skin. She jerked up straighter, astonished at the intense sensations he was creating in her.
It suddenly occurred to her that he was probably teasing her and she knew that she had to respond. She couldn't let him know that his small caress had affected her so strongly. She pasted an exasperated expression on her face, one designed to let him know that she was on to him. That she knew that he was just bored. And that he should stop what he was doing and pay attention.
She craned around to show him her carefully created face, but he was staring toward the front of the room. She kept looking at him, waiting to for him to look at her and acknowledge what she was showing him. His eyes didn't waver.
As she looked over her shoulder at him, she felt his fingers begin to move again, very slowly running up and down the inside of her upper arm, the backs of his fingers brushing along her side with each movement. With the first movement, his eyes finally met hers, no trace of teasing in them. Instead, they showed her certainty and . . . heat. She blinked at the look he directed at her, knowing her eyelids closed much too slowly and that they stayed closed much too long.
After a frozen moment she slowly turned her head, aiming her blind eyes toward the front of the room. In some logical place in her mind, she knew that they had said a great deal in that long look. That she had been asked for and had given permission. That they had somehow had a whole conversation in that blink of an eye.
His fingers continued their slow pressure, stretching to sweep from below her elbow up past the edge of her sleeve, the sensitized skin sending loud messages to her entire body. She felt her head sinking to one side and straightened it, only to find it listing over again.
The back of his hand teased its way along the fabric of her blouse, rubbing the silk gently against her side, adding to her reasons for preferring this fabric to any other. It transferred the heat of his skin to hers with the slightest touch.
His fingers pushed a little deeper, making her stomach flip. They curled around her biceps, his palm clasping the back of her arm. His thumb continued to make its broad sweeps while his fingertips traced the edge of her sleeve.
His palm drew away and his thumb and fingers slipped down the length of her upper arm to her elbow. They sketched the bones under her delicate skin, sliding over bumps and across planes.
Then his hand was gone completely, leaving her arm feeling feather-light and her body honey-heavy. She sat, not moving, as if she could tempt him back with her stillness like she would a wild animal.
She felt him shifting next to her, uncomfortable on the hard chair. She took a deep breath, trying to slow her heartbeat, and slumped slightly in her chair, half disappointed, half relieved that his heady touch was gone.
He shifted again and then she felt his fingertips skate down her back, following the hollow of her spine. She snapped up straight in her chair, gasping aloud at the sensation. She quickly turned it into a cough as her neighbor glanced over his shoulder and she was suddenly glad for the crowded space, knowing that he couldn't see anything from where he sat. Mulder's fingertips - no, his knuckles, she thought - moved up and down her spine, bumping over each vertebra slowly and carefully. Her heart, jump-started by surprise, sped up with each pass. His hand began to move in ever-widening circles, his knuckles digging into her flesh deliciously.
Soon, she couldn't hear anything but the rush of blood in her ears and Mulder's unsteady breathing so close to her shoulder. Finally, finally, he opened his hand and spread his heat across her back just under her shoulder blade, stretching his thumb to hook it under her arm. Using his thumb as a pivot point, he swept his hand over her back in wide swaths, the silk of her blouse rucking up and then slipping back down.
He had stroked only her back and her arm, but she felt that he had touched much more. She regretted that the limited space hampered his movements and she wished for more room, fewer people and less clothing. But even as she thought it, she knew that this would not be happening if they were alone. That somehow, the restrictions of this public place had given them a kind of permission.
Her eyes slid closed and her lips parted as he continued his surreptitious stroking. His fingers reached again for the shallow of her spine and his palm glided down to rest at the small of her back, a comfortable yet potent place for him to pause.
Suddenly, the harsh sound of applause intruded and her eyes flew open as his hand pulled abruptly away from her. They looked around and realized that the lecture was over.
"Damn," she heard him murmur, so low that she was certain he hadn't meant her to hear. She smiled to herself, agreeing with him wholeheartedly and almost wishing for another lecture to sit through.
She stood up and, bracing her hands on her spine, arched her back, twisting left and right to get the kinks out. She gathered their paperwork, including the caricature, into a stack and turned to retrieve her jacket. He was standing behind her with her jacket held out, ready for her to slip it on. She looked at him for a moment, her eyebrow arched, surprise at this unfamiliar gesture written plainly on her face. Then she grinned at him and turned around to accept the gallantry.
As they made their way toward the door of the conference room, Mulder said to her, "So, Scully, how did you enjoy the lecture? Did you find it . . . satisfying?" She turned to aim a glare at his twinkling eyes.
"No. I must admit that I didn't." She looked him right in the eye and continued, "It's not nice to tease, Mulder." He just grinned.
They continued out the door and down the hall, his hand on the small of her back, until the crowd thinned out and they were in their own hallway. Then he finally spoke again.
"Hey, Scully. I never got to finish my joke," he said, grasping her elbow and pulling her to a stop.
"OK, Mulder," she said, feigning irritation. "Tell me your joke."
He held up his left hand, pulling in his fingers to show her the face he'd drawn.
"What has six legs and two wheels?"
"An alien on a bicycle."
He looked at her, his eyebrows raised in expectation, his fist still held up. She reached out and wrapped her fingers around his wrist, holding his hand steady.
"Mulder, you haven't introduced me to your little friend, here."
He looked nonplused at her gentle tone. "Oh. Uh, okay. Scully, this is Mox Fulder. He's a professional comedian."
She solemnly looked at his fist and said, "Hello, it's nice to meet you. I just wanted to thank you for that joke. I can honestly say that . . . I've never heard it before."
Scully heard Mulder draw a breath to speak, so she placed her finger across the mouth of the face and said, "Shhhh."
Then she leaned over and placed her lips against his hand. At first gentle, she soon pulled his hand tightly to her, kissing it hard. Her lips parted slightly and she nibbled the tender skin at the base of his index finger. Then, as she pulled away, she swiped the flat of her tongue along the length of his thumb.
She dropped his hand, which fell limply to his side, and looked up at him. His face was perfectly blank, not giving anything away of what was going on behind those earthy eyes. But his nostrils were flaring with every harsh breath he drew. She reached up and patted his cheek.
"It's not nice to tease, Mulder," she repeated with a smirk and walked away.