Summary: Mulder gets a most unexpected and unwelcome visitor in his office…post all-things.
Title: Surely Not The Devil
Author: Circe Invidiosa
Spoilers: all things
Disclaimer: I know the law and the law would win.
A/N: Thanks to Rain and Carol for the betas, to Helen Quilley cuz you’re my best pal even if we didn’t end up writing this together, and to FranTheWonderHorse for telling me to polish it up and post it anyway.
Summary: Mulder gets a most unexpected and unwelcome visitor in his office.
The sound of rustling cellophane startled Mulder. He looked up to find a man with a large bouquet of flowers standing in the half-opened doorway of his office. Mulder watched him stare at the name on the door as though it were written in a foreign language. He hadn’t noticed Mulder sitting inside the office yet.
Mulder watched him a moment longer. The man was older and well dressed. He obviously wasn’t a delivery boy. Mulder bet that he was probably lost and looking to meet his wife or daughter. Someone from the information desk probably sent him down here as a joke.
Mulder finally spoke. “Can I help you, sir?”
The man was startled by Mulder’s voice. When he still said nothing, Mulder stood and asked, “Are you looking for someone?”
The man looked around as though he were making sure Mulder was speaking to him.
Mulder put on his friendly face and pointed to the flowers. “Those can’t be for me. Not many people wander down here unless they’re lost. Maybe I can help you get to where you’re supposed to be.”
The man stepped into the office and finally spoke, “I’m looking for Dana Scully. I was told I could find her here.”
Mulder was taken aback. “Oh, uh – she’s not here at the moment. I’m not sure when she’ll be in. Would you like to leave a message? Mister…?”
“Doctor Waterston,” Mulder repeated automatically. As realization set in, his mouth was moving faster than his mind, which was still stuck on the man’s name. Dr. Daniel Waterston. He never thought he’d ever have to actually meet the man. “Like I said, she’s not here right now, but I’ll let her know that you stopped by.”
“Perhaps I’ll just stick around and wait for her, since you don’t know when she’ll be in. She might be back at any moment, and I’d really like to see her today. If you don’t mind, of course. Promise I won’t be in the way.”
Mulder, not buying Waterston’s insincere politeness, moved towards him before he could step further inside the office. “I don’t mean to be rude, Dr. Waterston, but do you actually have an appointment with Agent Scully?”
“I don’t have a formal appointment, no.”
“If you’re implying that she’s expecting you, I can assure you she isn’t, otherwise she would be here or she would have let me know that you were coming. So you might be better off just leaving a message for her.”
“Do you know where she is right now?” Waterston asked, ignoring Mulder.
“She was scheduled to do an autopsy this morning – part of our current investigation. Things may have run over time.”
“Investigation?” Waterston said with confusion, “I thought she taught forensic pathology.”
“One of her many talents,” Mulder said, and when Waterston wouldn’t take the bait, he continued, “She used to teach.”
Waterston nodded as though he understood. “So does Dana consult for you frequently, or is this a one-time thing?”
“Agent Scully is my partner. You could say it’s been a one-time thing going on seven years now.”
Mulder, seeing some surprise register on Waterston’s face, began to wonder for the first time just what Scully had discussed with Waterston while he was away.
“And what is it you investigate, Mister– I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“Name’s on the door.” Mulder pointed back towards the entrance in the hopes that he might use it again.
“Fox Mul-der,” Waterston read with an exaggerated enunciation. He turned back to Mulder expectantly. Mulder just stared back at him. Waterston finally asked, “You’re not going to answer my question, Mr Mulder?”
“No, I’m not. I know what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work.”
“What are you implying?”
“I think you know exactly what I’m implying. If you want to know about Scully, ask her yourself. I’m not going to play your game.”
“So I presume Dana told you about me.”
“She told me what she needed to. Nice to see you’re back on your feet, by the way.”
“You’re too kind. So I take it that from what she’s told you, you don’t think much of me.”
“On the contrary, I don’t think about you at all. Look, Dr. Waterston, I don’t want to get into a pissing contest with you–”
“Well, Mister Mulder,” Waterston interrupted, “regardless of what you think, I know that Dana will want to see me.”
“And unlike you, Dr. Waterston, I don’t speak for Scully. All I’m saying is that she’s not expecting you. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to work.” With that, Mulder turned his back on Waterston and sat back down at his desk.
He knew Waterston was still standing there, probably furious, but Mulder didn’t care. In an effort to ignore him, Mulder began to devote every iota of his concentration to his research until Waterston entered the office and sat down in the chair in front of his desk.
“By all means,” Mulder said sardonically, gesturing to the chair Waterston already sat in.
Instead of getting back to his work, Mulder picked up his letter opener, and leaned back in his chair, watching Waterston as he straightened out his clothing. If Waterston thought he was going to unnerve Mulder, he had another thing coming. Mulder twirled the letter opener around on his fingertip as he watched Waterston.
“I thought you had work to do, Mr. Mulder,” Waterston said with some annoyance, as he fiddled with his visitor’s badge, the plastic wrap around the flowers crinkling with every movement he made.
“I sure do, but it seems my office has been turned into a waiting room. Should I remind you that your tax dollars are paying for this waste of time?”
“I told you, I’ll keep to myself. All you have to do is ignore me.”
“You see, Dr. Waterston,” Mulder said, leaning forward and pointing the opener at Waterston, “I really don’t think you want me to.”
“Really? And you’re some kind of expert in what I want?” Waterston asked with amusement.
“No, I wouldn’t say that. But I have been working with Scully for seven years. She’s told me about you and what she thinks, and you’re just dying to know that. And not that I’m bragging, but I am told I qualify as some kind of an expert in profiling behaviour. And, sir, your behaviour reads like a book.”
Waterston raised his eyebrows. “My, my. Well, you must enlighten me, Mr. Mulder.”
“Where would you like me to start, Dr. Waterston? With your visit here today? Or would you like me to go back further? How about when you abandoned your family and followed Scully to DC without telling her, without saying a word to her until chance happened to put her by your bedside?”
“I thought you said this wasn’t going to be a pissing contest.”
“Hey, you wanted to know.”
“Fair enough. But enough about me–”
“Really? But I was just getting started.” Mulder interrupted.
He tried to look disappointed, but Waterston’s only reply was to roll his eyes. Mulder continued, “You risked everything and nothing for her. You always thought that she would come to her senses and come back to you of her own accord, and that hasn’t happened, not even with your recent encounter. So now you’ve come here today hoping to see what Scully does so that you’d know better how to show her how her life here doesn’t measure up to the one you should have been able to provide her all those years ago. How close am I?”
“Do you really expect me to dignify that with a response?”
Mulder shrugged. “No, not really. I was actually hoping it would insult you enough to make you want to leave.”
“You must think you’re a pretty smart man, Mr. Mulder. You think you’ve got me all figured out and you think you know Dana. Do you really think that this job can offer her any satisfaction? She could be the head of any hospital department right now. She could be curing diseases and saving lives. Instead she’s doing whatever the hell it is you do here.”
“Did you ever stop to ask what she wants? In the years she’s been here, she hasn’t looked back. She hasn’t contacted you –”
“You expect me to believe that she wants this? Stuck in a basement? Investigating God only knows what.” Waterston waved his hand towards the office walls decorated with tabloid articles and Mulder’s “I Want To Believe” poster. “If you really know what she wants, then why would she question her choices? And why would she confess that to me?”
“And do you expect me to dignify that with a response?”
Mulder was letting this man get the best of him and he knew it. He was reaching the point where he was going to physically remove him if that’s what it took. He’d risk the reprimand from Skinner regarding FBI reputation and public relations. He was saved by the phone ringing.
He answered it. “Mulder.”
“Mulder, it’s me.” Her timing couldn’t have been better today.
“What’s up?” He tried to sound casual without revealing who was on the phone to Waterston.
As Scully gave him a rundown of the autopsy, Waterston got up and started to look around the office, still carrying the flowers with him. Mulder began hurrying Scully’s conversation with “Mmm-hmms” and “uh huhs”. He was straining to see what Waterston was doing. He didn’t want him poking around.
“Is someone there, Mulder?” She had become suspicious of his disinterest.
“You can’t tell me who?”
“Now’s not a good time.” Mulder’s eyes narrowed at Waterston as he spoke.
“Not even a hint?” She sounded amused. When Mulder didn’t reply she said, “Okay. Well, you’ll have to share with me tonight. I have to wait for some more results. I won’t be back in the office today. Meet you at your place? I’ll bring dinner.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“You’ve really got my curiosity piqued, Mulder. This had better be a good one.”
“You can bet on that.” He hung up the phone and turned to find Waterston standing beyond the glass partition in what he affectionately liked to call “Scully’s area”. Waterston was examining X-rays at the lightbox.
Mulder walked over to see what he was looking at. Waterston pointed at the film. “Would this be the victim that Dana is autopsying?”
“No, that would be the perpetrator we’re trying to catch.”
Waterston shook his head. “That can’t be right. You must have the wrong X-ray.”
“Agent Scully doesn’t get that type of thing wrong.”
“But this person should be dead.”
“Yeah, we see a lot of that in our work, but I can assure you that’s the bad guy’s skull, and he’s very much alive and still committing atrocities. So you can imagine how important it is for me to get back to work,” Mulder said as he snapped off the lightbox.
Mulder turned away from Waterston and walked back to his desk, saying, “By the way, that was Agent Scully on the phone. She won’t be back in the office today, but I’ll let her know you stopped by.” He leaned against his desk and crossed his arms waiting for a reaction from Waterston.
Waterston turned to face him. “You didn’t tell her I was here?” he asked incredulously.
Mulder shrugged. “She has a lot of work to do.”
Waterston pointed accusingly at Mulder. “How incredibly petty! You seem to have a lot invested in getting rid of me, Mr. Mulder.”
“You mean, other than my work?”
Waterston huffed. “Your work? From what I’ve seen of your office, your work has a lot to do with pseudoscience and nonsense. My guess is that you need Dana to legitimize your so-called work. You’re the one that put all this new age bullshit in her head and now you see me as a threat because you know I can make Dana see reason.”
“Well, you got something right. I do need Scully, and yeah, she does legitimize our work. But she also believes in the work. And if the changes you see in her now are not to your liking, it’s because she’s grown up and become more open to possibilities, which is something you never wanted.”
“Oh, please,” Waterston said, rolling his eyes.
“Let’s face it. She’s no longer the girl who revered you without question. And that’s why you never contacted her. If she had gone back to you, she’d be everything you wanted, but the fact that she didn’t tells you that she changed. You could live with that fact as long as you didn’t see her again. But now that you have, you have to change her back because you know you can’t live without her.”
Waterston laughed forcedly. “You’re pretty full of it, you know that?”
“Maybe, but I’ll tell you this, Dr. Waterston. She’s not the girl who lived for your approval anymore, but she’s still the woman who left you.”
“And whose behaviour is reading like a book now, Mr. Mulder? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this has more to do with your personal relationship with Dana than mine.”
“My relationship with Scully is none of your business.”
“And I beg to differ. Why else would you be blustering about me and my influence on Dana? You want to know why I’m here, Mr. Mulder? Because three weeks ago she was crying in my arms, wishing for the life I could have given her. Now that I’m better, I have an opportunity to give her just that. What smart comment do you have for that?”
Mulder took an intimidating step towards Waterston. “Let’s just say that you haven’t had a whole hell of a lot of influence over Scully in the last three weeks. Okay?”
Waterston’s eyes narrowed at Mulder as he stared at him for what seemed like an eternity. His face contorted in a sneer. Finally he said, “You might have saved me the trouble, if you’d said so to begin with, Mr. Mulder.” Waterston threw the flowers down at Mulder’s feet and stalked out of the office.
“So much for not wanting a pissing contest,” Mulder muttered, chastising himself as he picked up the flowers. He looked them over and pulled out the most crushed looking ones. Then he picked up the largest beaker he could find from Scully’s supplies and went off to find water for the flowers.
He was going to need all the reinforcements he could get when he explained to Scully what happened today.