Watcher

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


I'd watched them before. I'm good at watching, at seeing in the dark. And I've seen them, tangled together in motel sheets like some adulterous couple, fearful of their respective spouses.

And each time I follow them, lurking in the shadows with the other rats, I tell myself it's the last time. That I'm a fool for doing this. That all I'm doing is torturing myself, tearing out my heart. That I'll get caught one of these days. Each time I say this.

Until the next, like this night. I saw them in the parking garage. Mulder caught Skinner's eye and Skinner nodded. His partner was there, but if she noticed, she didn't give a clue. She knows, though. She doesn't approve, so she doesn't say, but she knows. I watched her glare at Skinner's car as he drove away. I know that look. I share that look. It galls me that we have this bond, but it also gives me hope.

But Mulder doesn't see this. If he doesn't want to know, if he doesn't want to believe, it doesn't happen. I watched him climb into Scully's car before getting into my own.

I didn't follow her. I know the route better than I know my way home. I've traveled it more often.

She dropped him at home. Mulder, full of contradictions - expensive suits that never saw a tailor, a man who hated to be driven yet didn't own a car, violent but so fragile. I hated myself for loving him.

I waited outside his apartment. He was down again in moments, suit of armor changed for old jeans and a leather jacket. He looked younger like that, smaller. If it weren't for his eyes, he could almost pass as a rebellious student. But I'd seen the pictures of Fox Mulder as a teenager. He'd always had those eyes.

I hope that when I get to Hell, Bill Mulder is there waiting for me, rotting.

Best job I ever did. Consortium didn't even have to pay me.

At least, I thought so until I saw that his eyes were even older afterwards. He wasn't supposed to *love* the bastard. Of course, I wasn't supposed to fall in love with Mulder, either.

He hailed a cab and got in. I had a reasonable idea of which motel was on tonight's schedule, so I didn't bother following. I just drove off on a different route.

*He* was already there when I arrived. I parked my own vehicle on the other side and maneuvered back to him. He didn't notice me at all, but I noticed him.

Skinner was leaning against his car. He'd discarded his tie along with his jacket, and unbuttoned his shirt collar. The white shirt emphasized his muscles better than the tightest t-shirt, and his suit pants outlined his slim hips and generous endowments enough to make my breath short and my jeans tight.

But then I could never breath around Skinner - even when I tried to control his life, I couldn't control my own reactions to him. How did it feel to be Mulder? How did it feel to be wrapped up in those arms, covered, filled by that man? If he made Mulder feel safe, I could love him as well as hate him for giving what I could not. And for giving Mulder what I...I didn't let my mind go further.

The cab pulled up, and Mulder got out. I sank further back into the shadows. Skinner's face lit up. That smile went straight to my soul. It always did. As for Mulder - he kept those eyes down and his lips together. That always happens, too.

He couldn't walk to Skinner fast enough. Each step was a dagger to my heart, but I had to keep watching. And then Mulder was wrapped in