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TITLE: Summer Rain
AUTHOR: Snark
E-MAIL: snark_911@yahoo.com
DATE COMPLETED: Nov 4, 1999
CLASSIFICATION: UST, H, MSR
RATING: PG for language only
SUMMARY: Sometimes, you *shouldn't* know enough to come in out of the rain.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a wee bit of MSR fluff, pure and simple. Not a shred of angst in sight, my friends. Just a little bit of hot cocoa to warm your soul on this cold November day.
SPOILERS: Zip-o-mundo. This is a bit of fanciful candy, nothing more. Assume the latter part of the sixth season for the timeframe, but otherwise, no prior knowledge is required.
DISTRIBUTION: OK to forward to ATXC newsgroup, Gossamer, and Xemplary. Please ask permission before archiving anywhere else, please. If you already have one of my stories, permission is granted, but still let me know that you are grabbing this one.
DISCLAIMER: FOX and CC and 1013 and not mine and whatever...
FEEDBACK: Mail all comments to snark_911@yahoo.com.
AUTHOR HOMEPAGE: http://members.tripod.com/~koosn/index.html
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Mulder stared out at the rain, wondering exactly when he had finally lost control over the events of these past few days.

Perhaps it was this morning, when Scully had called him from the next hut, telling him their flight out had been rescheduled for tonight. For once, he had been nearly packed when the phone rang, so eager had he been to get out of this place--usually, he was the straggler, the one frantically stuffing shirts and underwear into his travel bag at the last minute as Scully's toe tapped out I-m W-a-i-t-i-n-g with an ever-increasing tempo. Maybe control had been lost as he had hung up the phone.

Or perhaps it had been last night, when they had reported back to the sheriff's office after a day of chasing meaningless leads through one mosquito-infested swamp after another. Tired, sweaty, and totally lacking any new information, they had *not* been pleased to hear that the missing girl had turned up back at her home. Was it then, as he and Scully had shared an incredulous glance, that control had slipped away?

Maybe it was the previous morning, when they had first met Sheriff Jimmy Starkenholler, a man whose first words to them had been "Pleased to meet you. Would you like a cookie?" Sheriff Jimmy, as he had insisted on being called, seemed to have a penchant for Otis Spunkmeyer's Oatmeal Raisin cookies, a fact told plainly by both the number of empty cookie bags around his office and the girth of his mid-section. Perhaps control had been devoured in that instant.

But maybe it had been earlier. Days ago, when he had first heard of the case. A 16-year old girl gone missing in a swirl of lights in Florida as she camped out in the backyard of a friend's house. Perhaps control had been lost before it had ever been granted-- perhaps he should have known right then how the case would end...

He should have known the girl would end up back at her mother's home, popping her gum as she said she was sorry for forgetting to mention that she and her 21-year old boyfriend had Metallica tickets two states away.

He should have known that the girl's friends were simply going to cover for her, sticking together in their story with the practiced ease of teenagers.

He should have known he'd end up spending his nights at a place called the Forgotten Paradise Resort, a place which consisted of 12 rickety huts forming a half-moon around something that had once been an in-ground pool. Several truckloads of dirt later, it now sported a 'tropical garden of flowers'--a few marigolds and some sickly looking plant with blue flowers had marked their passage as they'd checked in.

Yup, he thought as he stared glumly at the puddles outside, I should have known... I should have remembered that for every case which ends with some sense of accomplishment, there are three that end with a delayed plane back from some hellish hole- in-the-wall.

So here he sat, perched in front of his window, staring woefully at the marigolds which stared right back at him. It was a deathly boring way to pass the time, but there certainly wasn't anything else to do. Television reception had been awful to start with, and the pouring rain had steadily negated the picture to a uniform snow image. And Scully, annoyingly better at catching sleep when the opportunity arose, had given him strict instructions not to bother her for several hours.

To top it off, he'd left his laptop in the car last night. Figuring they'd be leaving early in the morning, he hadn't considered it a priority to bring in with him last night. So now he couldn't surf the net or check his email or even play his unregistered copy of Alien Bug Hunt.

God damn it.

He'd been waiting to see if the rain would let up even a little, just long enough to race out to the car for the laptop, but so far, nothing. Steady, gray sheets of water cascaded from the sky with frightening regularity, without even a strike of lightning or rumble of thunder to break the monotony. Nope, this was a rainstorm, pure and simple.

For the third time, Mulder got up from his window seat and headed over to the bed, flopping face-first onto the beach-at- sunset coversheet without so much as taking off his shoes. Sleep had so far eluded him today, but maybe this time he could catch a couple hours or even just a few minutes of rest.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Mulder rolled over onto his side, curling his legs up near his chest and resting his head on his shoulder.

Tick... tock... tick... tock.

Lying on his back, Mulder draped an arm over his eyes, trying to block out the bits of dreary light that managed to squeeze through the raindrops into his room.

Tick...

Tock...

God damn it.

Mulder shot up off the bed, throwing his arms wide in exasperation as he sighed heavily. He walked over next to the window again, slowly letting his body tip forward until his forehead banged up against the window, stopping his forward motion. He stood there for a few moments, just staring out at the rain, at the car, at the little laptop he knew was lying in its case on the front seat.

I might as well just go out there and get it, he thought. If don't have something to *do* soon, I'm going to start driving wicker slivers into my head just for fun. The room was 'decorated' with tons of wicker/rattan/god-knows-what furniture and baskets and sculptures--the owners, probably trying to recreate a tropical feel to the room, had succeeded only in making him wish he had a book of matches.

He grabbed up the car keys, putting them into his pocket as he grabbed up his light coat. As he started to slip it on, though, he realized the futility of the effort--he was going to get soaked no matter what he wore. Unless a Mulder-shaped garbage bag materialized magically in his hands, he would be drenched before he even made it to the car.

Figuring there was no point in ruining the jacket, he dropped it back down on the chair. Mulder glanced down and saw that he still had on his dress pants and shirt from this morning. If he wore those outside, he'd be forced to unpack another set from his travel bag, probably spending the rest of the day trying to flatten out wrinkles and straighten sleeves.

Without hesitation, Mulder slipped out of the dress shirt and pants, immediately wondering why he hadn't done it sooner--the warm air felt a little more tolerable in just his boxers and t-shirt.

But he knew he couldn't go traipsing around outside, even for a minute, in just his boxers--the universe would see it and construct a Polaroid camera out of thin air in about 3.2 seconds...

He crossed over to his travel bag, rummaging through it for a bit before extracting one pair of black Bermuda-style shorts, the pair he used for sleeping in. But instead of a tropical floral pattern, these sported the text "Here's the Beef" running up the front of each leg. He paused as he began to step into them, glancing out the window, wondering...

Perhaps the universe will see these and create an even bigger Polaroid.

Ah well, can't be helped, he thought. He had to wear *something*, and these were all he had. They'd been a gag gift to him at a party a long time ago. Even though they were fairly worn now and showed the first signs of a few rips, he couldn't quite bring himself to toss them out--they were just too damn funny.

Mulder waved a dismissing hand at his shoes, deciding to just make the dash barefoot. He reached out and grabbed the door handle firmly, taking a couple deep breaths before pushing open the door and racing outside. He didn't bother swinging the door shut behind him--he knew it was heavily spring-loaded, and he heard it snap closed with a resounding thwack.

Not surprisingly, he was soaked to the skin before he'd gotten even halfway to the car. His feet were sinking into three inches of mud with each stride, the mud playing havoc on his balance and timing. Half skidding to a stop and half just slamming into the car uncontrollably, Mulder reached for the driver's door handle as he slapped his other hand against his pocket for the keys.

But where there should have been a bundle of metal, there was just the soaked material of his shorts sliding across his leg.

I forgot... the damn... keys, he thought slowly. I put the keys in my pants, and then I took off the pants.

If control hadn't been lost before, it was forever lost now.

"Aaaiiigh! God damn it! God damn it all to *hell*! This stupid goddamn rain mud piece of shit car worthless needs keys pile of steel crap case Metallica my ass sonofabitch would you like a cookie sheriff I'll tell you where you can shove fat bastard..."

The words tumbled together, an endless stream of frustration, anger and boredom boiling to the surface. Mulder stopped only when he could no longer find the air in his lungs with which to continue.

Chest heaving from his exertions, he took one last look at the laptop case lying in the front seat. Mocking him. Taunting him. Lying there so peaceful, so calm, so... dry.

The FBI was prevented from having to replace a drowned laptop only by the fact he had nothing with which to break the window.

Not that he didn't try.

After a minute or so of futilely bashing away at the driver's window, Mulder admitted defeat. With one last kick at the front tire, he turned back towards his hut...

To find Scully standing in the open doorway of hers, bent over nearly double as she laughed.

The universe had come through, the Polaroid replaced by a red- haired FBI agent with an extreme knack for never forgetting things like this. He wondered how he hadn't heard her before--the peals of laughter were now quite clearly audible, even over the sound of the rain pouring down around him.

"Having... a bit of... trouble, Mulder?" she called out in between gasps for air.

"Nope, why do you ask? Everything's just fine, Scully," he yelled back, jamming his hands in his pockets as he began walking back towards his hut.

"You sure? You looked a bit... distraught," she answered, waving a hand towards the car.

"Me? Distraught? Never," Mulder replied. "I always make it point to come out in the pouring rain and whack the crap out of a rental vehicle every once in a while. You should try it."

"Nah, that's OK, Mulder," Scully yelled. "I think I'll pass on that one today. I was feeling a bit hungry and thought I'd go look for something for lunch. Maybe a salad. Or a candy bar. Or some beef-

"Whoops, sorry, I see your shorts have already claimed that one."

Mulder drew to a stop. He pulled his hands out of his pockets and slowly reached them skywards, tilting his face up to let the rain beat down against his skin. Moments passed silently.

"You can laugh all you want at me being soaked, Scully," he finally called out, still not moving from his position. "You can poke fun at me for forgetting the keys, no problem. Drowned rat jokes? I welcome it. Umbrellas for the next three Christmases? Bring it on. But maligning my shorts will not be tolerated, Special Agent Scully."

"Really?" Scully said, starting to laugh again. "And what will you do about it, Special Age-"

Mulder moved so quickly, she swore there should have been a sonic boom. He was halfway across the space between them before she really even recognized it. With a yelp of surprise, she turned and leapt back through her open doorway, stepping out of the way as the door sprang shut behind her.

Or rather, it would have slammed shut if a forearm hadn't been thrust through at the last second.

Mulder burst into her room, grinding to a halt about five feet inside the door. "I am here to seek retribution for thy slanderous comments against my attire. Prepare to pay the price, ye of vixenish tongue," Mulder said, somehow managing to keep a straight face as he spoke.

Scully was slowly backing up, holding a hand out in front of her. "Mulder! Stop right there! You're covered in mud, you're going to ruin the entire room," she warned him sternly. She adopted her best authoritative tone, glaring hard at him. "Now don't step another foot into this room, Mulder, I mean it!"

Mulder just looked at her... and slowly slid himself about ten inches further into the room.

Scully tried, she *really* tried, not to give in to the laughter welling up in her throat. She clamped firm control over her face, clenching her teeth and pursing her lips tightly. She kept her gaze leveled squarely at Mulder, somehow managing to muster a slight frown against the nearly overwhelming urge to smile. Slowly, she brought her hands back to her chest, crossing her arms as she quirked an eyebrow at him in pure schoolmarm mode.

Her control would have been complete had Mulder not chosen that exact moment to flash a huge grin at her.

Scully lost it. If she'd been laughing hard before, she was laughing the laugh of the damned now. She was gasping for breath within seconds--she barely noticed as Mulder crossed the room, took her by the shoulders and thrust her towards the door.

Finally realizing he meant to force her out into the rain, Scully managed to regain her composure just enough to put up some resistance. Twisting and dropping away to the left, she managed to free her right arm. She hooked her hand back to grab onto the edge of the dresser, using the extra leverage to yank her other arm free as well.

Before she could fully stand and slip away, though, Mulder followed her motion around, slipping an arm around her waist and yanking her backwards into him. With his greater weight and better stance, she felt her hands slip away from the dresser almost immediately--they stumbled backwards onto the bed.

Scully felt Mulder's hold loosen a bit as the bed rocked under their combined impact. She took advantage of it, quickly rolling off him. She hadn't realized how close they'd been to the edge of the bed, though, as...

Slam!

Mulder fell off the bed, his valiant grasp for the coversheet coming up totally empty. A slight groan emanated from the floor. Scully figured she must have pushed against him harder than she thought, and quickly scrambled to the end of the bed.

"Mulder? Are you OK?" she asked, a note of worry creeping into her voice.

"Nnngghhh," was the mumbled reply. Scully flipped down off the bed immediately, kneeling next to Mulder in her concern.

"Mulder? Talk to me, Mulder. Are you hur-"

Again, Mulder moved quicker than she could have imagined possible. In one sleek motion, he had rolled his torso up off the floor, snaking an arm around her mid-section. He somehow flipped his whole body over in one motion and was now positioned behind her, leaning his body over hers in a wrestler's hold.

"I had you big time," he whispered, his voice a devilish purr.

He lifted her bodily from the floor and carried her to the doorway. She made one final attempt to save herself, jamming her feet up against the doorframe as the reached it, but Mulder simply twisted his body a bit. Her bare feet were unable to maintain any traction on the door, and she felt her feet slide away as Mulder began to laugh.

"Your feeble attempts will not save you, fair lady--the hour of my revenge is at hand!" And with that final victory cry, Mulder rushed Scully through the doorway and out into the pouring rain.

When he reached the center of the courtyard area, he finally slid to a halt, dropping Scully down to her feet in front of him. Already drenched and knowing she looked like a drowned mouse, she could do nothing more than laugh as she gained her balance, the mud flowing around her feet.

"I'll get you for this, Mulder," she said, waving an accusatory finger at him as she turned to face him. Her hair, already dripping, spun around quicker than she had anticipated, slapping into her face as she spoke. She somehow managed to keep from laughing even harder.

"Get me for what?" he asked innocently, hiding his own laugh. "It's a beautiful day outside, Scully! You're here with me, the rain is warm, the tropical flowers are blooming... sort of... what more could you ask for?"

A thousand flippant answers leapt into her head, borne of years of verbal sparring with him. But as she opened her mouth to reel off the usual sarcastic reply, she realized something. She knew she'd often felt it, but had never consciously thought it before.

"Nothing, Mulder. Not a single thing," she said easily. He threw a confused glance at her, but she just smiled and stretched her arms up into the rain. The rain coursed over her body, its steady rhythm washing away the last lingering frustration of being stuck in yet another crappy hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Right now, nowhere was just where she wanted to be.

Scully opened her eyes after a minute or so, surprised to see Mulder still standing where he'd been before. He seemed to be testing his shoulder a bit, rotating the joint a bit and flexing his hand repeatedly. She stepped closer to him, a bit warily.

"No, I actually did wrench my arm a bit when I fell off the bed in there," Mulder said, laughing as he saw her careful approach "Nothing huge, but it's beginning to ache a little bit." He showed her that he couldn't fully rotate the shoulder, wincing slightly as his arm reached horizontal.

"Maybe next time you can find a less painful way to fall," she said, laughing as she reached up to rub his shoulder. He stood still for a minute, eyes closing as her fingers gently massaged his muscles. He soon twisted to face her, though, his hands reaching out to grasp hers. He held them close to his body, his fingers wrapping around hers gently.

"Well, I fell head over heels about six years ago," he said simply, quietly.

Scully looked up at him, her gaze locking with his as the rain poured over them. Hair matted against his forehead, water dripping off every inch of him, his clothes twisted and clinging to his body...

She knew she'd fallen a long time ago, too.

Slowly, Scully took her hands from his, one hand reaching up to push the hair back from his eyes as she put the other behind his head. As he leaned down towards her, a small smile crossed his lips, a smile she knew was echoed on her own.

This time, they fell together.

THE END


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