J. Edgar Hoover Building
Scully looked at her watch. Mulder was an hour and a half late. She stirred creamer into her coffee and then leaned against the table. He was usually only half an hour late. Something must be wrong.
She heard the ding of the elevator and straightened up. That must be Mulder. No one else came down here. She leaned out into the hallway.
The doors of the elevator crept open slowly and out came Fox Mulder like a horse out of a starting gate. He ran down the hall toward her, a stop watch in one hand and a can of orange spray paint in the other. His trench coat billowed out behind him. He looked like a deranged superhero -- G-Man!
He runs like a duck, Scully thought, trying to hide her smile in case something serious was going on.
He skidded to a stop in front of her, and it was all she could do not to laugh. She brought her mug up to her lips and smiled into her coffee.
"Scully!" Mulder shouted. "I've lost an hour!"
Scully couldn't help herself, "Well, that's the trick, Mulder. Those 900 numbers make you lose track of time, and then with each additional minute...you end up owing them a week's paycheck." She smirked.
"NO!" Mulder yelled, "an hour!"
"I heard you the first time, Mulder. There's no need to yell. By the way, you're an hour and a half late."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you, Scully. I knew I was thirty minutes late, but I lost an hour!"
Scully looked at her watch again, checking the little date in the corner. She pursed her lips so they wouldn't betray her with a grin. She made an encouraging sound in her throat. She didn't trust herself to speak.
If Mulder was surprised by her lack of enthusiasm he didn't show it. He launched into his tirade, "I looked at my watch when I came into the building. It said 7:34. But the clock in the lobby read 8:34. I lost an hour! Do you know what this means?! The FBI could be involved in alien abductions! The aliens could be here right now, on the inside! Scully! The possibilities! Do you understand what this means?!" Mulder's hair was sticking up, and he was nearly spitting he was so excited.
Scully finally burst out laughing. She had to set her coffee cup down. She clapped two hands over her mouth and stared at her partner.
"Scully, not you too?" Mulder asked, alarmed.
"Mulder," she finally choked out, using her hands to wipe away the tears that had leaked out, "it's Daylight Savings. You're an hour late because you were supposed to set your clocks an hour ahead like the rest of America."
Mulder looked momentarily crestfallen but recovered. "But my watch stopped at 7:34, Scully! It's the aliens...aliens," he repeated, a look of awe on his face.
Scully leaned over Mulder's arm and pushed a small button on the side of his watch. With a beep his watch returned to 7:37 Mulder time -- an hour behind the rest of the east coast.
Scully took a step back to observe Mulder's reaction.
He looked lost. "Scully, how? What? Do you know what you just did? You just erased valuable evidence of extraterrestrials here on earth! How could you do this to me?"
Scully couldn't believe it. He was blaming her because he had bumped the "set time" button on his watch. Cheeks burning, she opened her mouth to point out Mulder's skewed version of reality when the elevator bell dinged.
Mulder and Scully stared at each other. They were both down here. No one else ever journeyed into the basement. That could only mean--
AD Skinner walked down the hall toward them with a purposeful stride. Approaching them, his eyes narrowed even further, if that was humanly possible, when he spotted the can of spray paint in Mulder's hand.
Hands on his hips he growled, "Agent Mulder, would you care to explain why there is a large orange X in the lobby of this building?"
Scully started laughing again. Mulder was such a sucker. What had he been thinking?
Unfortunately Scully's laughter drew Skinner's attention away from Mulder to her. "Agent Scully, did you have anything to do with this?"
"No, sir," she said, sobering up instantly.
"Explain yourself, Agent Mulder," Skinner demanded, his jaw clenched like a sprung bear trap.
Scully looked at Mulder to see how he was going to get out of this one. She could see him working through something in his head. Finally he said, "There were aliens, sir. Big ones. With horns." Mulder gestured to his head with both hands to form horns. He had a look on his face meant to divert blame and elicit a laugh or two. He was back in high spirits and determined to joke his way out of it.
Scully stared at his audacity. Skinner stared as well, but he was clearly unamused. The corners of his eyes twitched. Scully decided it must be hell to constantly squint like that. She tried it herself, but it made her vision blur.
"There is a neon orange X upstairs," Skinner announced through his clenched jaw.
Scully started laughing again. This was too funny, and Skinner was acting like Mulder had an embarrassing package waiting for him. She wished she could have seen Mulder in action. Security probably had a tape she could borrow....
Skinner's tense voice cut into her thoughts, "Do you find this humorous, Agent Scully?"
"Well, maybe you'd like to help Mulder clean up the floor then?" Skinner said, feeling more like a kindergarten teacher than the assistant director of the FBI.
"But sir..." She looked over at Mulder who made his horn gesture again. He was going to get them both kicked out of the Bureau.
"Yes, Agent Scully."
Mulder widened his eyes and then crossed them.
She sighed. "Nothing, sir."
"I'll let the officer at the desk know you'll be up." Skinner turned around and stalked back to the elevator.
"Mulllderrr," Scully growled.
"Scully, I don't know why you let him do that to you." He grinned.
Scully ignored him and tried to sip her coffee. Her nerves were crackling. More coffee couldn't make them any worse. She made a face. It was cold.
Mulder went on, "I mean, you had nothing to do with that X on the floor."
"And you had everything to do with that X on the floor."
"So," she sighed, realizing what was happening here, "this is Skinner's way of punishing me for not keeping a better eye on you."
She turned to glare at the broad shoulders of Skinner as he waited for the elevator.
Skinner knew he'd be waiting for a while. He hadn't pushed the call button yet. He wanted to see how his two most troublesome agents were going to work this out.
"So what have you learned, Scully?"
"That the next time you come running up to me with that look on your face, I'm going to run the other way."
From where they were standing they couldn't see the smile on the AD's face, but it was there -- a stranger in a strange land. He patted his pocket where the surveillance tape was hidden. It wouldn't do for this to get into the wrong hands. He had two of his favorite people to protect.