Title: Pursuit of Happiness
Author: Jori
Email: damienma@bellsouth.net
Rating: NC-17 for m/m sexual situations.
Notes: In a crossover between 'The West Wing' and 'The X-Files,' a chance meeting between Special Agent Fox Mulder and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman turns into something else quickly. This is set in November of 1999, soon after 'Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati' in 'The X-Files' timeline and around the time of 'The State Dinner' in 'The West Wing' timeline. Mulder is still recovering from them picking through his brains.

*****************

Pursuit of Happiness by Jori Remington

The Mall
Washington, DC
November 1, 1999

The damn phone keeps ringing in my hand and I can't run fast enough. I'm still recovering from my so called hospitalization and I just can't run as fast as I could before. He isn't even going that fast but it feels like I'm trying to catch up to Carl Lewis.

"Hey! Hey, stop!" I shout but the man I'm chasing doesn't turn around. I can't catch him. He doesn't miss a beat on his path to wherever. I can't stop and answer it and hope to keep him in my view. Fuck. My legs are cramping. All the physical therapy in the world didn't prepare me to all out sprint across DC breathing in this chilly autumn air. My lungs can't keep up with my need for oxygen.

It stops ringing for a second and I try to sigh with relief but end up coughing instead. Then it starts again. Who in the hell is this guy and doesn't the caller get it? He's not answering.

"Fuck it," I mumble as I press the receive button on the small handset. "Hello?"

"Josh?" a male voice asks from the other end, knowing full well this is not 'Josh.'

"Uh, no . . . " I say, moving around a bunch of tourists in the way and continuing my run after 'Josh.'

"Then who is this? How did you get this phone?" the voice asks. He sounds incredibly puzzled by the fact that someone else would be answering.

"'Josh' dropped this phone while jogging. I'm trying to catch up with 'Josh' now so he can have his phone back considering it rings non-stop," I say, my breath coming out in rapid pants. I'm not even sure this person on the other end could understand any of that.

"Ah," the voice says as if I really did make it all clear. For all he knows, I'm some damn mugger who took off with the phone after leaving 'Josh' lying dead in a ditch somewhere.

"Yeah. And let me tell you, Josh can run pretty fast," I say and the man on the line laughs.

"Comes with the job. Well, if you catch up to him, could you tell him to call Sam immediately?" the man who I assume is Sam asks. Like I'm a goddamn messenger boy.

"Sure," I mumble, sucking in air when I can.

"Can you remember that -- the name Sam?" the man asks. For chrissakes, what does he think I am? A four year old? Besides that . . . it's Sam.

"Sam. Yeah. I think I can remember that one," I say with as much smugness as I can apply to my tone and not pass out. Shit. Thank God Josh isn't a suspect that I need to chase down. He most certainly would get away. "And if I don't catch up to Josh, should I just throw his phone away?"

The person on the other end of the line doesn't say anything. Maybe he doesn't want me to know who Josh is or where to find him. Whatever. I don't care right now.

Why in the hell is Josh jogging with a cell phone anyway? Sure, I have mine with me but with my job, I can't be without it. Surely someone in this town must be able to get out of the office without having to be connected?

"Why don't you give me your name and where I can find you and if Josh doesn't have his phone when he gets back to . . . uh, the office, I'll let him know where to find you?" he asks. I can hear him move away from the phone. He must be getting some paper. Goddamn it. My damn legs are cramping up. Too much time knocked on my ass in a hospital bed. Too much lost time for nothing.

"Mulder. Special Agent Fox Mulder. The Hoover Building," I say, struggling with the words.

"Fox?"

"Yeah. Fox Mulder. I'll be back at my office in a bit. If I don't die trying to catch Josh."

"I'll let him know," the person I assume to be Sam says before hanging up.

I run a little faster now that I don't have to concentrate on sounding somewhat normal and Josh begins to slow down, shaking out his one leg. Good. I hope he's getting cramps, too.

"JOSH! Will you slow down so I can give you your goddamn phone back!" I shout and everybody within ear shot turns around. Including Josh. He keeps jogging in place and he looks around him. Probably making sure he can make a clean getaway from the psychopath running after him waving a cell phone.

I finally reach him and nearly collapse. Scully would not approve of this. She didn't even like me coming back to work so soon let alone running a crosstown sprint.

"Can I help you?" he asks, looking at me cautiously. He has dark eyes and his thinning brown hair is going in every which direction in the breeze.

"You. Dropped. Your. Phone," I say, panting hard now. Even though it's cool out, sweat pours from my body and I reek. All the drugs I was on are still oozing their way slowly out of my body and I swear I still smell like the hospital. "About a mile back. You dropped your phone."

He takes it from my hand, grimacing at the amount of sweat I left behind on it. "Thanks. I'm sorry . . ."

Before he can get another word out it rings again.

"Excuse me. Hello," he says, holding up his finger and letting me know I should wait for him. "No, this is Josh. Yeah. I got it back."

I stretch out my muscles, hoping I can make it back to work. Maybe Scully can come get me. That would only be slightly embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as dying on a street corner, but close.

I try not to look at the man I just chased and he turns away from me as his phone call begins to get serious. He looks familiar. Perhaps if someone hadn't gone carving into my head, I'd know who he is. As it stands, I'm just glad I know who I am and someone doesn't have to change my diapers at the assisted living facility.

"Shit. No way. Already? That wasn't supposed to happen until Monday. Toby did what? No, you tell him that we'll be ready on Monday and not a moment . . ."

My phone rings and he stops for a second and looks at me. I dig it out of my pocket and answer and only then does he resume the rant he's on.

"Mulder."

"Mulder, it's me. Skinner is looking for us. Did you forget about the meeting?" she asks. She sounds close to be ticked off but somewhat understanding considering all I've gone through. All we've gone through.

"Yeah. I'll be back in a few minutes," I say, still panting. It almost sounds like I was rolling around with someone under the sheets during my lunch break. Or at least that's what I vaguely recall it sounding like. Scully would know better than that anyway. My life has no room for rolling around of any kind.

"Are you okay?" Scully asks. I breathe even heavier into the phone just for her.

"I'm fine. . . I mean, I was jogging and I had to catch someone and . . . I'll explain it when I get back, okay?"

I hang up on her before she can answer. I don't want to hear about not exerting myself right now. Josh's phone call doesn't appear to be quite that simple. I watch the tourist milling around the Mall, heading toward the Washington Monument, still covered in scaffolding. I try not to listen, but I can't help it.

"No. Dammit, Sam. Tell him I'll be there in a few minutes and I'll take care of it. Yeah. Bye," he says, finally hanging up.

We both stand there, sweat dripping off of our bodies, just looking at the cell phone that started all this.

"I . . ." I start to say and then realize I have nothing to add to that.

"Thanks." He looks just a little more than agitated by whatever just happened on that phone. "I really appreciate it. I'm sorry. I'd give you something . . ."

"No, man. I'm just glad I caught you before I died," I say, finally catching my breath.

"Thanks again. I, uh, really need to get going," he says, pointing in the opposite direction than he was running in.

"You're welcome," I say and he gives me a nervous smile before jogging off quickly.

I know who he is. I just can't quite place it. Damn it, I hate that. I should be able to remember everything. I always could before they did this to me. Bastards. I watch as he continues to run down the sidewalk, picking up his pace again.

Too bad I can't make it back that quickly to the Hoover building. Scully will just have to deal with Skinner.

************

The White House
Washington, DC

"Did you get your phone back?" Sam asks before I can even get to my office. Donna has left a pile of . . . something. . . on my desk and I don't feel like going through it all now. She's going to have to explain it to me.

"Donna, can you come in here?" I say when I see her passing by the door. I look at Sam, who's still there though I'm not sure why. "You called me on my phone. Remember?"

"Right."

"He didn't take it back from me after I talked to you."

"You lost your phone again, Josh? I'm not getting you another one . . ." Donna starts but I interrupt her by holding up the phone.

"I lost it when I was out jogging but someone returned it."

"When did you start jogging?" Donna asks. "Did you meet a girl, Joshua?"

"I, uh . . . just wanted to get . . ." I start but Sam interrupts me.

"Some man named Fox returned his phone," Sam says and I look at him curiously. How does he know his name? I don't even know his name. "What did Fox look like. I've never met a man named after an animal . . ."

"You met Wolf Blitzer," Donna says interrupting him. I look from one to the other and then they both look at me.

"I meant I never met a man in the real world named after an animal," Sam adds.

"This isn't the real world?" Donna asks, looking at him with a little pout.

"No, this is the just the world where your paychecks come from and I'm starting to wonder why. Donna, what is all this stuff?" I ask, trying to figure out the pile of . . . stuff . . . on my desk. That doesn't stop her from going of on this tangent she and Sam have created.

"So you lost your phone and a man named Fox found it. So what does he look like?" she asks, sounding interested. I didn't know Donna was that desperate. I just thought Donna was . . . Donna.

"He looked like -- I don't know. He looked like what a man named Fox would look. He was taller than me. Bad haircut, though. Decent looking in a sweaty, jogging man sort of way. Donna, how in the hell would I know what he looks like? I wasn't looking," I say, exasperated now. Funny thing is, I was looking. I just don't know why.

"You should be."

"I should be looking?" I ask.

"Yes, for me. You should be looking."

"I'll remember that. Sam, what time do we have to be there?" I ask, pointing at my watch. These files and papers will just have to wait.

"Oh! Leo is waiting for us right now," he says as I try to pull him back to this non real, real world we call work.

"Yet here we stand discussing a man I don't know whose parents couldn't pick out a decent name for their kid," I say, walking past the two of them and heading toward Leo's office.

To be honest, he did look like what you would imagine a man named Fox would look like. Long. Sort of lean. And cunning. I'll have to check into exactly who he is.

************

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
November 2, 1999

"What are you looking for?" Scully asks from the doorway. I have a pile of folders on my desk and I've only made it halfway through them. Some of them are the ones I restored after the fire. Others made it through unscathed. I doubt it's in here, but I can't get his face out of my mind.

"I ran into someone yesterday who looked familiar but I can't quite place where I know him from," I say, flipping open another file and closing it quickly. That's not it. Fuck. I hate this thing they did to my head. My neurologist assures me that my memory will come back and be the way it was before, but I'm starting to doubt her. The headaches are getting better, but I have days I just want to tear my hair out. Maybe I should tell Scully. Then again, she's been through enough.

"The guy with the phone?" She walks into the office and sits down across from me. "You think you're going to find him in those files?"

I look at her over the pile before me and shake my head 'no.'

Leaning back in my chair, I rub at my temples, hoping the slight headache I'm developing goes away before it gets worse. It's probably going to be one of those headaches where I'm going to wish I got my prescription refilled.

"Are you okay?"

"I just wish this whole thing never happened," I mutter. "What in the hell did they get out of it?"

"Hopefully, nothing," Scully says, her voice soft and low. I wish I could turn out the lights and rest my head on the desk but there are too many files in the way. "So, why is the fact that you can't remember this person bothering you so much?"

"Because I've always been able to remember everything. I stood there looking at this guy and I just can't remember," I say, pushing the files aside. It just pisses me off. There's nothing more to it. Or at least I don't think there is. What more could there be?

"You're an FBI agent. I'm sure you can figure out who he is," Scully says, making it sound so easy. "That's what they pay you for."

"I thought they paid me just because they liked me so much," I say with a wry grin and she smiles back at me.

"Just be glad your pay isn't based on how much they do like you. You would owe them money," she says, looking at the pile of files now shoved to the side of my desk. "You could always go jogging -- just jogging this time -- and see if you find him there. Then you could ask him and get it off of your mind."

"I could. But wouldn't that be like I'm stalking him?" I ask, fully aware of the how unsettling it is to be followed.

"I think it'd be stalking if you would keep showing up there, asking him for a date," she says and we both smile. "I'm sure if you explain who you are and what you do, he'll understand."

"Then can I ask him out on a date?"

"If you want to."

*******************

The White House
Washington, DC
November 8, 1999

"Donna, I'm going to take lunch and go for a jog," I say to my assistant. She stops what she's doing and follows me down the hall.

"When did you start jogging so much? I thought you hated to go outside?" she asks. I ignore her. "Don't forget you have a meeting . . ."

"I know. I know."

"Just trying to do my job. No need to get all defensive on me," she says, not exactly pouting but pouting nonetheless in her own way that she has.

"I was just saying . . ."

"Josh, no need to get all defensive. You have forgotten a meeting or two in your life and I was just making sure that this wasn't one of them. So, are you going to run into Fox?"

"Who?" I say, not listening to her anymore.

"Fox. How many men named Fox do you know?" she asks.

"Fortunately, none," I say, wondering exactly how far she's going to follow me.

"If you run into him again and if he really looks like his picture in that file you had pulled on him, give him my number," Donna says and I stop walking.

"How'd you know . . ."

"I know everything, Josh. Who do you think actually did the legwork to get you that file?" she asks, looking at me with a look of superiority on her face.

"Legwork? You call what you did legwork?" I say with sarcasm. "When was the last time anyone did any legwork around here since the election?"

"I dialed the phone."

"Like I was saying. Donna, I've got to go or I'll never make it back in time. I'll have my phone if you need me," I say, trying to slip away from her.

"Don't forget my number. Or better yet, get his number for me!" is the last thing I hear as I finally get away.

*******************

The Mall
Washington, DC

He jogs right by me and I wouldn't even have recognized him except his phone rings. I continue to follow him until he hangs up on the short call and then I catch up. He's not moving as fast today. Or I'm moving faster. Yes, that's it. He really isn't that fast at all. I must be getting better.

"I'm sorry to disturb you. My name is . . ."

"Wolf or Fox or something like that," the man says before I can even say it.

"How did you know?" I ask. I stop running and so does he.

"When you had my phone, you told the person who called," he says, which just clears up so much stuff for me.

"Since you had your phone back, why would he tell you?" I ask, forgetting momentarily why I'm here in the first place.

"He wanted to know what someone named Fox looks like," he says, looking me up and down. It's even colder today than it was when we last met and I'm dressed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. My breath comes out in white puffs. Too many white puffs. I shouldn't be breathing this hard.

"And what did you tell him?" I ask, wondering why someone would even ask that.

"I told him you weren't his type," he says seriously. I don't know whether to laugh or not. He's hard to read. He looks serious but I'm sure that was supposed to be a joke. I can usually read everybody.

"Um," I say, looking for something to say.

"What did you need, Fox?" he says and I cringe.

"Please call me Mulder," I say and he gives me a somewhat disinterested nod before looking down at his watch.

"What did you need, *Mulder*?"

"Ever since I saw you the other day, I've been trying to figure out who you are. I've gone through every file I have from all the cases I've worked on over the last few years and I just can't place who you are. I, uh, I suffered a trauma recently and it just pisses me off that I can't put your name with your face," I say, telling him the truth. He looks at me as if I'm nuts. Well, he isn't the first person to do that. I get that most every day.

"I'm sure the FBI has a file on me, but I doubt you would have it, Agent Mulder."

"How would you know?"

"Sam told me your name. I checked out who you are. I had no clue who was answering my phone and what they might have told people, so I checked. I think it's safe to assume you didn't do much harm," he says smugly. Who in the hell is he?

"I think I can be trusted. Are you" I say, just as smug. This person has enough pull to find out who I am yet I still don't know who he is. He doesn't let on to what he knows about me. "So, you know who I am, but who are you?"

"Sorry. I'm Josh Lyman." I just shake my head, looking puzzled. "You live in DC but you don't follow politics?"

"I actually live in Alexandria and I'm not usually in town enough to follow local politics. My job . . ." I start to say, trying to make up anything for an excuse, no matter how lame.

"Alexandria is like right over there," he says. "I'm pretty sure DC politics are Alexandria politics."

"I, uh . . ." I say, now trying to come up with a better excuse for not knowing this person I should apparently know and failing. Dammit. I hate this.

"I'm the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House."

"Oh."

"That's where you might have seen me before . . . not at the White House but in the news. Or on TV. Occasionally I say something that makes news, good or bad, and that's where you probably know me from," he explains, looking at his watch again.

"You work at the White House?" I ask for some stupid reason even though he just said that.

"That's where the Deputy Chief of Staff usually keeps his office," he says. He does some lunges, keeping his muscles warmed up. "Listen, I really have to get back to work. I have an important meeting in a few hours and I should be back already. If you want to jog with me in that direction, we can continue to discuss where you might know me from, though to be honest I haven't gotten out much in the last few years."

"Neither have I," I say as we both jog in the general direction.

"You just said you weren't home very often. That's why you can't name the President of the United States."

"Bartlet. I do remember that much. Besides that, his picture is hanging all over where I work," I say. "Your picture isn't."

"That's too bad. Unless it's on that wanted list you guys run. That wouldn't be good," he says with a half laugh.

"I never even thought to look there."

"Efficient at your job, are you?" he asks.

"Most of my suspects don't ever make it there. Some of my suspects don't even show up in pictures at all," I say as we stop and wait to cross the road. "When I was in VCS there were a few on there but . . ."

"You caught them all?" he asks, looking at me.

"Some."

"I know. I read your file," he says, narrowing his dark eyes at me. He runs a hand through his sweaty hair and waits for the walk sign to change in our favor.

"You guys do that all the time? Just get files on anyone you want to know more about? Didn't the last administration get in trouble for that? Keeping tabs on the other party?" I ask. Granted, I have access to FBI files but I work there. I just can't imagine calling for no reason about someone who returned your phone.

"Yeah. That's what we keep you guys and the CIA around for. So we can keep tabs not just on the other party but on the entire population," he says with just a tinge of sarcasm in his voice.

"You can't even imagine how they keep tabs on all of us," I say and he looks up at me. "Or maybe you can."

"I have no idea what you are talking about, Mulder. I just show up and do my job. Sometimes I don't even do that well, but I try. I don't know anything about how we keep 'tabs' on everybody and if that's what you wanted . . ."

"No, I'm sorry," I say. Obviously, my file must have plenty of good information in there. "I just wanted to know who you were."

"I was on the front page of the Post yesterday. I was kind of hidden in a crowd but I was on there," he says with no expression in his voice at all.

"And I missed it. I was out of town for the last few days. In California chasing down this kid who had to eat brains . . ."

"You get paid for what you do?" he asks. The light finally changes and we cross the street together.

"Same people who pay you also pay me," I say and he just shakes his head. "I just have an office in the basement. Not in the White House."

We both stop on the other side of the street. I have to get back to catching organ-eating mutants. He has to get back to giving them a free country to live in.

"Trust me, some days a basement would be preferable," he says with a heavy sigh.

"Nice meeting you," I say, watching him as he wipes the sweat off of above his lip.

"Yeah, you too," he says as he jogs his way toward the White House. I watch him just long enough to see him turn around and look me over one more time.

*****************

The White House
Washington, DC

"Did you get it?" Donna asks as soon and I turn the corner and head to my office.

"Get what?"

"His number."

"How do you know I even saw him?"

"All I'm saying is if you saw him, did you get his number?" she asks again.

"Don't you have work to do? Aren't we trying to run a country out of this building?" I ask and she just shrugs her shoulders.

"You are part of my job."

"But me wrangling phone numbers from FBI agents is not part of *my* job," I say. She follows me into my office and sets the files she was carrying down on my desk. "Besides, why don't you just call him? He works in the basement of the Hoover building. I'm sure he's the only Fox that works in the basement of that particular building. Or did you need his home phone number?"

"I tried calling him at work. When I knew you wanted information on him. A woman answered."

"I'm sure it's not his wife if that's what you're worried about. Maybe he has a female partner. Some women do actually work, you know."

"Touchy, aren't we? Anyway, a woman answered and I hung up."

"How mysterious of you."

"I can be mysterious. I'll let Sam know you're back. He's been waiting for you," Donna says, finally leaving me in silence.

I sit behind behind my desk and look at the phone. Maybe I don't want to get his phone number for her because just maybe . . . I want it for myself.

Shit. I haven't had a thought like that since I was in college and it damn near came close to destroying my life then. I look around at everything I've achieved in the last few years. It could destroy even more now.

******************

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC
November 11, 1999

"Hello!" I answer, sliding across the office floor and grabbing the phone on the fourth ring. "Agent Mulder here."

There is only silence at the other end and at first I think whoever it was hung up. Then someone clears their throat. A male someone.

"Hi, um, this is Josh Lyman. I was just calling to . . . I don't know why in the hell I'm calling," he says, sounding exasperated with himself. Something in the tone of his voice makes my heart beat faster and if he doesn't know why in the hell he's calling, I don't know why my heart is beating like this.

"I'm sure not to check and see if you're on the most wanted list."

"I'm not very wanted anywhere right now. Today, I'm sure there a lot of people who would love to see my ass anywhere besides here. They would probably settle for jail," he says with a sigh.

"Bad day?" I ask, going through my messages. Scully is late coming back from an autopsy at Quantico and nothing good has come this way since we got back from California.

"Sometimes it doesn't matter how much power a group of people have. They can't make everything right."

He sounds very resigned yet on edge. And I have no idea why he's telling me these things. We don't even know each other.

"I've tried to make a lot of things right for years. There will always be someone else with more power," I say, sitting down and leaning back in my chair. "Is this what you called to tell me?"

"No, actually. I was wondering if you were up for a game of b-ball. You, um . . . had on a Knicks T-shirt the first time -- when you returned my phone and some of the guys an myself are getting together to shoot some hoops and since you said you didn't get out often because of your job, I thought maybe . . ."

He sounds worse than the first time I asked a girl out on a date. "Sure. That's sounds good," I say, saving him from having to go on.

"Now, when I say some of the guys, you are aware that sometimes that includes the President. Of, um, the United States," he says, and then he answers something a female voice just asked him. I have no clue what I'm supposed to say to that. "I did a background check on you and . . ."

"I used to do background checks on other people."

"Yeah. So I read. Anyway, you come across as a bit eccentric but not a danger to others so I think you can come play with us," he says before answering that other person again.

"Thanks."

"It will probably just be Sam and myself. Maybe some other guys. Depends on what kind of a day we have around here and so far I must admit it's been shitty and it's far from being over," he says with another sigh.

"Sure. I understand."

"Also, it's going to be late. There's this dinner here tonight and then there's this little problem with your guys . . ."

"My guys?"

"FBI . . . guys. Do you not pay attention to things going on around you?" he asks and I laugh.

"I'm in the basement, Josh. In more ways than one, I might add. You can't even begin to imagine what I do down here," I say and he doesn't respond. "How late is late?"

"Late. Do you go to bed early or something?" he asks.

"I don't sleep."

"Good. Neither do we. I'll give you a call when the dinner is almost over and give you the directions and tell you how to get in here. Will you still be there?" he asks and I look at my watch.

"I have nowhere else to go. Unless something big comes up. Then I might have to leave town, but I don't expect anything," I say, trying to sound like I at least do something to keep this country safe and running. Yeah. From brain-eating mutants and smoking sons of bitches.

"Okay. Bye."

I hang up the phone just as Scully walks through the door, looking beyond exhausted. Tossing aside her trench coat, she sits down across from me with a huff and stares past my shoulder.

"Long day?" I ask, knowing I'm going to get to hear about this one.

"Long day, Mulder? Long day? Your case of spontaneous combustion was nothing more than a kid messing around with lighter fluid and matches. I honestly can't believe I just spent that many hours on my feet to come up with that. Of course, after I finished, some of his friends fessed up about exactly what happened in that abandoned warehouse. Mulder, are you listening to me?" she asks, her voice not hiding exactly how ticked off she is about this. I was listening to her even if I can't meet her eyes right now. They just add to the whole pissed off effect and I'm not up to it right now.

"Yes, I'm listening."

""Who was that on the phone?" she asks, looking down at it. "Someone else die in some truly mundane way that you can hype up and force me to do an autopsy this late in the day?"

"No. That was just . . . someone. It was nothing," I say, not knowing quite why I lied. I never did tell her I figured out whose phone I found the other day or that I finally got his name.

"Good. Because I'm tired," she says, closing her eyes and rubbing the bridge of her nose.

"You want to go grab something to eat?" I ask and she starts to shake her head 'no' already.

"I just want to go home and take a hot bath. I'm tired, Mulder," she says, standing and gathering up her stuff. Somehow, after everything that happened over this summer, I expected things to begin to change between us. Yet, there's still something standing in the way. I can't quite pinpoint it, but neither one of us can get around it yet. We just can't make that hurdle yet.

Maybe she doesn't even want to. Maybe I don't. Everything would be different and in our lives, the way we are is the only constant we seem to have.

"Goodnight, Scully," I say and she gives me a smile.

"Don't stay here all night, okay? Get out of the basement for a while," she says.

"I will," I say and she walks out the door.

******************

Outside the White House
Washington, DC
November 12, 1999

"You made it," I say, tossing the ball to the man coming toward me. He catches it and looks around suspiciously. There is no one else here but I still felt like playing. Even though it is damn cold, I need to expend some of this energy.

"I thought . . ."

"Sam had to take care of something and most of the people were just too worn out after the dinner," I say, catching the ball when he throws it back to me. "Had anyone 'important' been here, this place would be surrounded with Secret Service Agents. As it stands, it's just me. Everybody else is working on something that came up today."

"The FBI agent who got shot?" he says, standing there with hands on his hips.

"I see you aren't as lost down in that basement as you say you are," I say, bouncing the ball before sending in the direction of the hoop. It goes through easily and Fox Mulder watches it as it does so.

"I work in FBI headquarters. Things like that do get around. Even to people like me," he says, moving to catch the ball as it bounces under the net.

He's a bit taller than I am and he makes a basket easily, catching the ball and sending it my way.

"People like you?" I ask, dribbling around him. He blocks me easily and I miss my next shot.

"Eccentric guys. Wasn't that the term you used?" he asks, tossing me the ball again even though it should be his shot.

"Yeah."

"Why am I here, Josh?" he asks, not letting up on his defensive posture under the net.

"I read up on your . . . plight. I was interested. Not that I believe in a lot of that stuff but maybe that's just the schools I went to. They didn't leave a lot of room for believing in UFOs," I say and he drops his arms down.

"And you think Oxford did?"

"Oxford?"

"You read my file. I'm sure that's in there," he says, holding the basketball against his hip.

"I suppose it was. Your reports are quite interesting, Mulder. As is your opinion about the United States government. I'm glad to know you think we are efficient enough to cover up something that big," I say with a chuckle. "Most of them in there aren't even efficient enough to figure out how to send a damn e-mail."

"I'm sorry you don't believe in any of it."

"I didn't say that. I'm sure somewhere out there in this vast universe, there's some sort of life. I just hope to hell the people running the most powerful government on their planet don't screw up as much as we do. I wouldn't want anyone . . . or anything . . . else to have a day like we had today," I say, and he narrows his eyes at me. I stare at him, deciding that when he does that, his name does indeed fit him perfectly.

"If it's so bad, why do you keep doing it?"

"Power, my man. Not that I have any, but the thought of being that close to it makes you lightheaded. Some days it's a good feeling. When everything goes right. When you meet the right person . . ." I say, looking at him again. He doesn't look shocked or taken aback. Instead, he just tosses the ball to me.

"Did that happen recently?" I ask.

"Maybe. So, tell me more about yourself, Mulder. You said you suffered some sort of trauma. What does that mean exactly?" I ask, throwing the ball while he's not paying attention and making a basket.

"I can't explain it. I was kidnapped and someone did something to my head. Someone you might even know," he says and I wait for the ball to roll back to me and pick it up.

"Really? Who?" He studies me carefully before going on.

"Nevermind. It's not important right now," he says, putting his arms up as I take another shot. This one he blocks easily.

"My assistant has been bugging me to get your phone number for her. Just from looking at your file picture." That really distracts him. He acts like he has no clue how he looks as he combs his fingers through his cropped hair.

"Instead, you used it I see," he says, focusing on me.

"Instead, I used it," I say. This conversation has to end. I have to end it. This isn't the time or place to be doing this. "Do you want to go get something to eat?"

"I thought you just attended a big dinner?" he asks, retrieving the ball for me and handing it over.

"Doesn't mean I actually had time to eat," I say. "It was a pretty busy night. We aren't the guests at these things, you know. The work continues on."

"Sure. Getting something to eat sounds fine," he says. He doesn't sound nervous exactly. I'm not sure what he is. Curious? God, I hope so.

I toss the ball away and we walk toward the exit together. "Did you know that in certain parts of Indonesia, they summarily execute people they suspect of being sorcerers?"

"Actually, I did know that," he says with a smile.

"Figures." Maybe I should have given his number to Donna. Maybe I will yet.

Tomorrow.

*****************

Georgetown Cafe
Washington, DC

He picks at his food between asking me questions. Difficult questions. Not 'what color is the sky?' kind of questions I'm would expect to answer at 2 a.m. at an all night diner. He's seems impressed that I have an answer for most everything he tosses out at me.

"Why are you doing what you do?" he asks me, leaning back in the booth and putting his arms across the back. His coffee is steaming between us and I shovel a forkful of hashbrowns into my mouth.

"Some strange fantasy of mine to save the world," I say after I swallow.

"But you are trying to save the world from something that doesn't exist. If the world is going to end, it's not going to end in some 'alien invasion.' We are going to do it to ourselves," he says. He picks at a torn bit of vinyl and looks over at it instead of at me. It isn't until I start talking again that I he focuses on me.

"On November 27th, 1973, by kid sister disappeared from our living room. . . "

"I read . . ."

"You read it in some file created by someone else. You didn't live it. In 1973, my sister, Samantha, disappeared while I was babysitting her. She was there and then she was gone and for years now, it has torn me up inside. I don't know exactly what happened to her, but I have my theories," I say, and he looks away again.

"Survivor's guilt."

"What?" I ask.

"You heard me. I'm sure with that degree of yours in psychology, you know all about it. I know something about it, too. I know what it can do to you," he says but he still doesn't look at me.

"And how is that?" I ask, putting my fork down and taking a sip of my own coffee.

"I lost a sister, too." His eyes meet mine and I lean back in my seat. "Shit, I don't know why I'm even telling you this. I just told my therapist a few weeks ago and now I'm telling you and I don't even know you."

"Go on," I say, curious. I like him. I like him more than I should and that isn't a good thing. I can't even explain this attraction. I'm not sure I want to.

"She was babysitting me and the house caught on fire. She died. I didn't."

"I'm sorry," I say. I've heard that a million times in my life about my own sister. When I was young, I remember telling my mother that if one more person told us how sorry they were, I was going to kill them. She only stared at me with lost, cold eyes. Her baby was gone and I couldn't fix that. All she could do was sit there and listen to them tell her she was sorry.

"She was something else. She loved music. She wanted to conduct an orchestra someday. All that was gone so quickly," he says. "My family tried to get over it. I mean, it was awful for a while afterwards. But I had all the comforts of growing up in a nice Jewish home in Connecticut."

This time I look down. We seem to have quite a lot in common. He probably thinks I'm a nut with a cause using him. I'm not. He won't believe me. Not without seeing what I have seen. Scully doesn't even believe it all and she's seen plenty. It's going to take the hand of God sweeping down into her life to make her believe.

"Did you ever do this before?" I ask quietly, motioning to the two of us. I hope I haven't read his intentions wrong. I don't think I have, but I've been wrong playing a hunch before. I don't know why I'm doing this. I -- it's been so long and this would be so easy to do. He looks around. He is a public figure even if I couldn't remember him. No one could ever know.

"Almost. I was in college. Harvard. Knowing what I wanted to do in life, I ended it before it even really began. If I hadn't ended it there, I would probably be another lawyer with a big office billing by the hour. As it is . . . I don't know. Maybe there wouldn't have been anything wrong with that big office. He lives around DC and I see him every once in a while. When I need a favor," he says, his voice so low I can barely hear him. He gives me a tight smile and I'm sure he wants to know about me.

"College seems to get the best of us. It wasn't anything more than going along with my girlfriend's wishes. She wanted to watch. She was like that," I say, closing my eyes and remembering Phoebe all too well. I can recall the expression on her face better than I can remember the man who was in bed with us. He was young like us and blond. But beyond that . . . I have no idea. Another night with Phoebe I'd rather not remember.

"You had far more interesting girlfriends than I ever did," he says with a laugh. "How about now? Seeing anyone?"

"I, uh . . . I don't think so," I say, opening my eyes and looking down at my empty plate.

"Oh."

"No, I'm sorry. No, I'm not. I have a partner. One that I work with and that I care for dearly but it is nothing more than that," I say, looking up at him again. He looks tired. Then again, every time I've met him, he has looked tired.

"Not your choice," he says. It isn't a question. It's a statement. And I think maybe it's true. But if it's true, what am I doing here with this guy skirting around what we are really thinking about doing right now?

"It's not a path she wants to take, apparently. So, here I am."

"Here we both are."

"Why are you doing this?" I ask, looking around again. There's only one other table that's occupied in the whole restaurant and it's filled with kids dressed all in black with parts of their bodies covered in various piercing. "Aren't you afraid of losing everything?"

"You forgot that there are a bunch of young liberals running the country now," he says with a forced smile.

"How liberal?"

"Not liberal enough for this to go on past tonight," he says. He plays with his watch and looks at the time twice in less than thirty seconds.

"Where do you want to go?" I ask, my voice catching in my throat. I barely know this person. I like him, but I don't know him. "My place has probably been bugged in the last few hours since I'm later than usual."

He laughs. It's a nervous laugh that's loud enough to make the waitress stop wiping tables and look at us. We don't look particularly gay or together, but she gives us some knowing grin nonetheless.

"We can go to my place. The press never camps out at my front door. They're usually far more interested in Sam than they are in me. He looks better in their pictures," he says. He picks up the check the waitress left when she gave us our food and counts out enough bills to cover it. "Let's go."

And I just follow him.

*****************

Josh Lyman's apartment

Mulder kisses like he talks; in a haphazard, all too casual way that makes my cock harder than I thought possible. He just lets everything go with his kiss. Sort of like his stories -- it's fucking unbelievable. We hardly even made it through the door and he's got me pressed up against it, the doorknob hitting me low in my back but I don't give a shit right now.

I'm glad I'm dressed in just sweatpants and a t-shirt because if I had to wait for him to unbutton a dress shirt, I would die. The jackets we had on were discarded on the floor quickly. It's too damn hot in here now anyway. His long, graceful fingers move across my body while his mouth remains on mine, tongues sliding past lips and teeth. Tongues penetrating into places where they don't really belong. Oh, shit. I can't fight this. I don't want to. Fuck the job. This is good.

He's got his legs parted enough to make up for the few inches difference in our heights and I move my hand down the front of his sweatpants, feeling him grow hard under my touch. He pulls away from the kiss and moans, his mouth dropping open in pleasure.

"It's been so damn long," he mutters, his eyes closing as he leans his forehead against mine. "Too damn long."

"Not much longer now," I whisper, moving off of the door and maneuvering us toward the bedroom. I push him and that direction and he goes willingly, all the while my hand never leaves his cock. This is all the further I ever made it with a man back in college. A couple of quick gropes in my senior year. I wanted more. All these years, I wanted more if only just to see what I gave up.

We make a circle in my bedroom, feet getting tangled and then untangling. His mouth is back down around mine and his kisses are hot and needy. He said it's been a long time. Who in the hell wouldn't want this? He must be saving it for someone. Or he was saving it until tonight.

He kicks off his shoes and stumbles around trying to pull off his socks, breaking our kiss. I take this opportunity to get out of my own shoes and socks and watch him. Mulder pulls his shirt over his head and tosses it aside. His body is long and lean and he must do more than just jog a couple of days a week. I hate jogging but I need an excuse to get out of the office occasionally. Maybe he does the same thing. He goes to tug off his sweats but I stop him.

"Let me," I say, stepping over our shoes and taking hold of the elastic band. I pull them down, allowing his cock to spring loose and toward me. Nice. Damn. When some maniac came running up after me with my phone in his hand, I never imagined I'm be contemplating how nice his cock is a few days later. I finish getting undressed and the we just stand there, nervous and unsure what to do next.

"You want to . . ." we both say at the same time, looking at the bed. He ends up with a goofy smile across his face and he grabs me, pulling me on top of him as we tumble onto my bed.

Mulder rolls me on my back and looks down at me and there is something in his eyes that I just can't pin down. Something past sadness . . . more of a lost look. He must have too much time on his hands if he can keep that one up after all these years.

He edges toward me, placing his mouth on my body, moving it slowly across my flesh. His tongue circles one nipple and then the other and I nearly fly off the bed at the warm sensation that his contact sends to my cock. He keeps it up until I can't stand it anymore and I give him a little push downward. If his tongue felt that good there, I can only imagine . . .

Oh, yeah.

That's good. Damn good.

Mandy, who never closes her damn mouth any other time, wouldn't do this often enough. God, I missed this. Mulder's tongue laps around and around and I can't keep my ass planted on the bed. I have to thrust up into his mouth. I can't help myself.

His hand goes to my hip to hold me down as he slides his lips over my shaft, taking me in further. His tongue travels across the underside of me and I find myself grabbing onto my bed linens and holding on for dear life. Especially when he slinks his hands down between my thighs and touches right there. Fuck, that's good. I roll my head on my pillow, not knowing where to look. The lights are on and I can see everything but I'm not sure I want to. Not sure I can stand it.

He takes his time, moving his one hand from my ass to my balls and back again. His other hand holds on the base of my cock as his mouth continues to work me. I think I'm in love with his mouth at least. He eases a finger into my ass and I cringe at first, waiting for the muscles to relax. I focus on the wonderful sensations coursing through my cock and then he finally reaches the right spot and bumps my prostate.

"Oh, fuck. That's good . . . good . . ." I mumble, spreading my legs apart so he can get better access. This night is going to be short and I want him to fuck me before it's over. I finally convince my hand to stop gripping the sheets and I reach out for his cock, still erect even without direct stimulation. He backs his hips away when I get too close and looks at me out of the corner of his eye. He's saving his hard-on for something. I think I know what. Mulder releases me from his mouth and changes positions, ending up between my knees. His tongue goes back to work, drawing a line from the tip of my cock and down around my balls and then even lower. I raise my ass up for him and he grabs a pillow and shoves it under me. I feel his tongue circle around my ass and I stare up at the ceiling, amazed at the fact I don't even know this person doing this to me. I don't think I care.

"What do you want to do, Josh?" he asks, leaving my ass wanting more as he moves and kneels between my parted knees. His hands run down my thighs and I finally pull my eyes off of the ceiling and look at him.

"I want you to fuck me," I say, struggling hard not laugh even a little as those words come out of me.

An embarrassed flush crosses his face as he looks down at my body before him. I'm going to let him be in charge. I'm in charge of enough fucking situations all day. I just want to lie back and enjoy this one.

"Do you have anything? Condoms? Hand cream or something? We're going to need something," he says, his eyes looking around my bedroom.

"Actually, I have this," I say, rolling from my spot toward the nightstand. I pull out a box of condoms and toss then to him. I dig around a little more until I find a half used tube of K-Y and I throw that to him, too. He looks at it and then at me, and I know what he wants to ask. "My last girlfriend was not only cold hearted, but she was dry, too. Like fucking dry ice."

"At least you can remember your last girlfriend." He tears open the condom package and pulls it out, rolling the latex down over his cock. My hand goes to my own cock as I watch him. I stroke myself while he gets out the lube, smearing it all over himself.

"Of course I can remember her. I have to work with her. Never work with someone you've fucked in the past or are fucking presently. It doesn't work," I say, closing my eyes as I feel him slide two wet fingers into my ass.

"I, uh . . . guess I don't have to worry about ever working in the White House," he says. I open my eyes and an expression of sheer concentration moves across his face as he prepares me for what's coming next.

"No. But that doesn't mean you aren't ever going to fuck someone you work with."

"I once married someone I worked with. It didn't last."

"See?" is all I say and he laughs.

******************

He doesn't have to say anything more. We both know this isn't going to last past this one time and that's one of the reasons why. I don't even want to think about Scully right now. This is fucking. Nothing else. I want this. I need this. Just to find some sort of release I can't find with her yet.

I take hold of his ankles and flex his legs up toward his chest, putting me in the perfect position to enter and fuck him like he asked for. Like I want to do.

Nudging into him, he grimaces in a combination of pain and pleasure and I slow down what I'm doing until he urges me on.

"More. . . "

"Like this?" I ask, slipping in further. He's so hot and tight around my cock I wish I could just push all the way into him in one quick motion. But I don't. It's been so damn long since I felt anything but my fist around my dick and the tight sensation is almost enough to make me come before I can even take my first stroke.

"Yeah . . ."

I push in even further, waiting for his muscles to open up around me and allow me in. They do and I slip in as far as I can go without pulling back out. I want him to be comfortable with this. I can't believe this is happening. I'm fucking some top ranking government official and he wants it as badly as I do. Makes me glad I went out and voted during the last election.

"Good?" I ask.

"Oh, fuck, yeah," he says as I change the angle of his hips and pull out and thrust back in, making sure to hit his prostate in doing so. I'm glad Phoebe's extra fuck buddy taught me these things all those years ago.

"Tell me if you want me to stop."

"No, don't you dare."

His hand continues to stroke his cock and I pick up my pace, thrusting just a little faster and a little harder. Josh's eyes are closed and I don't ask for him to look at me if he doesn't want to. He can imagine whatever he wants to in his mind.

I don't need to imagine anything. This is where I want to be right now. He starts to thrust his ass back in my direction, increasing the feeling of pure pleasure flowing out from my cock and hitting every nerve ending on the way.

"You close?" I ask. Our conversation is limited by what we are doing and the fact that we don't know each other well enough to say anything right now.

"Oh, yeah," he practically moans out.

"Good."

I change the speed of my thrusts, trying to get him off before I reach release. It isn't long before his whole body tenses up and he reaches orgasm, an fluid arc of semen moving past his hand and onto his abdomen.

"So fucking good. Shit," he says softly as his muscles continue to spasm around my cock. I only have to thrust into him a few more times before I'm there with him. I close my eyes as the room begins to spin wildly around me and I just when I think it's going to end, he tightens down on my cock and that just continues it.

Releasing his legs, I take hold of the condom as I slide out. I pull it off and tie the end closed before putting it over the side of the bed. Falling down beside him, I still struggle to catch my breath. Fuck, I'm exhausted. I watch as Josh puts a sticky hand across is abdomen, wiping it through his own semen.

"I need to get cleaned up. I need to be to work in about an hour," he says, struggling to keep his eyes opened.

"When was the last time you slept?" I ask, and he finally loses the battle with his eyelids.

"You mean for more than four or five hours? Let's see . . . when did we win the election?" he says with a smile.

"Two years ago."

"That's when I slept. But he can only be in office for eight years so I can sleep when it's all over. I'll just take a year and sleep. But you don't sleep at all?"

"A little. Since they fucked around with my head, I've been afraid of falling asleep. Scared I won't wake up or that I'll be trapped . . . somewhere else," I say. I can vaguely remember that in my dream, Diana and I were still together, children and all. It was more of a nightmare. She's only been dead for a few weeks. I need to go to the cemetery . . .

"Whatever they did to you, I'm sorry," he says. He pulls the pillow out of under his ass and tosses it to the floor before pulling a blanket over him. It will be covered with come but he doesn't seem to care.

"It's not your fault."

"I know. But I'm just saying . . ." he starts.

"Don't worry about it. I thought you had to get up and go in to work. You guys never sleep. . ." I say. I can't stay awake much longer and I should really drive home but I'd probably kill someone on the way.

"Maybe I'll be a little late."

"Okay," I say, putting my arm over him and getting close. He doesn't object to this. Instead, within seconds, he's asleep.

*****************

The room fills up with steam as I stand in the shower, letting the water pour over me. My body hurts like hell right now and it's going to be a long day. All I can hope is I don't have to sit through some six hour long meeting.

The bathroom door opens, letting some of the steam escape and through the frosted panel of the shower door, I see Mulder walk to the toilet and take a piss. This is always the difficult part for me. What to say the morning after. I better come up with something soon because he's coming this way.

He slides the door open and steps in, closing it before all the warmth can escape.

"Hey," he says, his sleepy eyes looking me over. "You're late."

"Very. I already called in and made up some excuse. My assistant pushed back my morning meeting and but I still have to be on the Hill by nine o'clock," I say, honestly not knowing what else to say to this man I spent the night with.

"And I have to go to some small town in Virginia to investigate . . . something."

"Aliens in Virginia?" I ask with a soft snort. Stepping aside, I let the spray from the water wash over him as he stands there with his hands on his hips. I can't help but looking at everything.

"No. I just got a call on my cell phone. There was a murder. A cop was killed and we've been asked to investigate it," he says, sounding somewhat pissed about the alien thing.

"I, ah, I'm sorry."

"A cop was killed and no one saw the assailant. There's a rumor he was invisible," he adds.

I laugh. I can't help myself. "And I thought I had to deal with all the weirdos in my job. Fuck. You take the cake, Mulder," I say, reaching out to touch his arm.

"Should I be concerned that someone who works in the White House complains about having to deal with 'weirdos' while doing their job?" he asks, lightening up quickly. He must take a lot of shit about what he does. Maybe more than I do.

"Ever dealt with Congress?" I ask.

"A few times."

"Then you know what I mean."

I slip my hand into his and pull him toward me, wet bodies meeting somewhere in the middle. Shit, this has to end and I'm not sure I want it to. The only potential this has is for something to go wrong. Very wrong. And I know how fast things can go wrong.

"So, this is it?" he asks as if he can read my mind.

"Has to be."

It's that simple.

"You can't even imagine how many people would use this against me. To make us stop," he mumbles, lowering his face to mine. I look into his eyes and he's telling the truth. What has happened in this man's life? This has nothing to do with political gain but with something I'm not even sure I want to know about.

"W-what . . . who are these people?" I ask. His mouth brushes across mine before moving off to the side, closing in on my ear. "I can look into it . . . I can. . ."

"No. Don't do that. They don't care who you are. They've killed people in higher positions than you. Don't get involved," he whispers, nipping at my ear. "They killed Scully's sister. They killed my father. They have tried to kill us many times . . ."

"Who?" Could he possibly be serious? Sure, the alien thing is a bit over the top but . . . no, he can't possibly be serious.

"Don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do," he says, his hand sliding down my chest to my cock. He wraps his fingers around it and I grow hard under his touch.

"I do have some pull, you know. Not a whole hell of a lot. I mean, no one brings me coffee or anything, but I have. . ."

He shuts me up with a kiss. His tongue brushes past my lips and into my mouth and I do the same to him. Hands grope everywhere, not wanting to let this end. He finally pulls back from me and looks into my eyes.

"No one else gets hurt over this. Not you. Not anyone."

"Okay," I say, letting it drop. His hand keeps pumping up and down on my cock and I stare down between us, watching him do this to me. His thumb circles the top, brushing across it and I moan. It echoes through the bathroom and he smiles.

"I'm going to miss you. Going to miss our jogs during lunch. Our basketball games. The time we spent in bed . . ."

We both laugh. Laugh at how fast this all happened. His fingers keep up what they are doing and I'd do the same to him but I'm just too . . . stunned. This was all so fast.

"Maybe . . . I don't know . . . we can see."

"No," he says, his hand gripping tighter. Neither of us says another word but instead watch as he jerks me off. It isn't long before I reach release, my come mixing with the water as it flows down the drain. He keeps going until there is nothing left in me. The pleasure took the pain away for just a few minutes but it couldn't last forever.

Letting me go, he brushes a quick kiss over my lips. "Goodbye," is all he says as he gets out of the shower. I watch as he grabs a towel and leaves me all alone in here.

*******************

St. Jude's Memorial Hospital
Pittsfield, Virginia

Damn it. Where in the hell is Scully? I've been waiting here for the past half hour and she's still not here. Traffic was heavy but no more than usual.

I'm so fucking restless after last night. This morning. Whatever. Restless and happier than I've been in a long time. I feel about ten years younger. I feel like I'm finally starting to put all that crap that happened in the last few months behind me. And miraculously, the headache I get under stress seems to have disappeared. Nothing like a good fuck to clear the mind.

I lean up against the wall, my cell phone in hand. I want to call him. I can't, but I want to. No, this can't go on past one night. We both knew it but some things are just easier said than done.

Why can't it go on past one night? Would such a liberal White House really look down upon this? No, but the press would have a field day. And I already have enough problems with the Bureau. I don't need to create another one. They'll start calling me Miss Spooky Thang next and I just don't need it.

Then there's Scully, my partner who I thought I would wait for forever. Guilt washes over me and I shove the feeling back down. It was just sex. Not love. There's a difference.

Right. Try explaining that to her.

Fuck. Was I cheating on her? How can I cheat on someone I've never even kissed?

No, I wasn't. It was just a quick fuck . . .with a man. Or at least I think that's all it was. I like him. A lot. He's smart and . . . I have to stop thinking about him.

Maybe instead of calling him, I need to call Scully and find out where the hell she is. I shouldn't feel this good, should I? I don't know. I just don't. I feel good and bad all at the same time and I just have to think about what happened in his bed for the good to move past the bad.

I pull out my phone and begin to dial it when I feel someone tap on my shoulder.

"Uh. There you are. Heavy traffic?" I say, giving her a smile. A guilty smile. That's what it is.

"Slow going. Let's just say I had ample time to read the police report that you faxed me."

"Thoughtfully provided by the local authorities even though it doesn't begin to tell the whole story," I say, wanting to move on to this quickly. Maybe if I just forget what happened overnight, I can get rid of this feeling. Then again, do I want to? I don't know. The good is so damn good.

"Sheriff's deputy is slain during a routine patrol. It's a tragic occurrence but I don't see the mystery here, Mulder," she says.

"Except that the deputy was beaten to death by an invisible assailant."

I get pretty much the same look as I did from the person I told this to earlier. Maybe I should introduce them someday.

"Yes, but that's according to the young man who's accused of his murder."

"One Tony Reed, and I'm guessing wrongfully accused. He's an "A" student moved here a few months ago from Philadelphia. He's never been in trouble in his life," I say as we enter the morgue and get back to the life we know so well.

****************

The White House
Washington, DC

"You're late," Donna says, catching me as I pour myself a cup of coffee.

"I know. I wasn't feeling well this morning . . . must have been the salmon."

"I feel fine. Maybe you just need to go out jogging. Get your mind off of work," she says with a smile, handing me papers as we start toward my office. I balance them in one hand and my coffee in the other. It's going to take more than this cup of coffee to keep me awake today.

"Get you the home phone number of that FBI Agent?" I add.

"That's an idea. Though I could just call him at work, I suppose . . ."

"He's not in," I say without thinking. She just stares at me. "I mean, chances are he's not in, right? He does have a job to do, defending us from the bad guys and unlike some people around this office, I'm sure he actually works."

"No need to get snotty, Josh. I won't ask about him again."

"Good," I say. I go through my messages while standing behind my desk, hoping that maybe there's one from him. I realize before I even get through the stack that Donna would have caught on to that already. He's not going to call.

We already decided that. No use wishing for something that's not going to happen.

"Leo's waiting for you. And here's the update about the hurricane and the damage it did to the fleet. Here's something about that FBI agent who was shot . . ." she says, continuing on but I stop listening. She hands me another pile of papers and I stare down at them for a second before closing my eyes.

Time to get back to being some young liberal running this nation.

******************

The End