Getting Out of the Kitchen
By Mary Kleinsmith
Spoilers: None that I can think of
Summary: When a heat wave hits the east coast, working in the basement isn't always the most comfortable place to be.
Classification: Intense UST
Archive: Yes, anywhere
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris
Carter (the jerk!) and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm
only borrowing them, especially since the fic writers have a better sense of
what to do with Mulder and Scully than CC and Company does (despite the
fantastic final Mulder/Scully scene they gave us). Still, I'm not making
any money on this.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to Sally for an incredibly fast beta, letting me
get this "out there" while the heat wave was still a current event.
Author's Notes: Sitting in a 90-degree apartment, this story was pretty hard to resist. Thank you to fellow swelterer Susan for encouraging me in this short piece. The title, for those unfamiliar, makes reference to an old saying, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of of the kitchen."
Feedback: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please?
Getting Out of the Kitchen
By Mary Kleinsmith
God, it was hot. Hotter than hot, and she was more miserable than miserable. How the hell did they expect a person to get any sleep when it didn't get below 80 outside all night and the damn air conditioning in the apartment building had been set to "conservative" levels. 78 degrees wasn't
conservative, it was sadistic. Standing before her open closet, every single article of clothing that caught her eye screamed just how much she'd sweat in that particular outfit. The only relief in sight was the drive to work; her car's air conditioner worked fine. But they wouldn't let her work out of her car, despite how much time she and her partner seemed to spend in it. Nothing had yet struck her fancy when the phone rang.
"Hi, little girl. Can I buy you an ice cream cone?"
She smiled at Mulder's enticing yet humorous drone. "No, but if you have
enough ice cubes to fill my bathtub, it might be love."
"Oh, but, Scully, then the cute little pink parts of you would turn into cute little blue parts of you." That was a little over their level of comfort, as far as she was concerned, so she made no response to the innuendo.
"So to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?" she asked, plopping down on
her bed in front of the oscillating fan.
"Comparing wardrobe, Scully. The only thing on our agenda for today is
backlogged paperwork, right?"
"You know it is, Mulder."
"Well, I have it on good authority that Skinner is out of town, and being
that we are going to be alone in the basement - that muggy, humid hole in the ground - I wanted to let you know that I do not intend to spend eight-plus hours in a suit and tie today. I've declared the X-Files Division Dress-Down day, so wear your coolest clothes."
"If the director finds out, he's going to have a cow," she disputed, sighing
her wish to wear what she wanted.
"Scully, the entire J Edgar Hoover building is air conditioned except the
basement. And while being in the basement makes it cooler than any building
without a/c, it'll still be hotter than the rest of the building by far. If
nobody is going to see us, what's the harm?"
Agent Scully argued silently with Frivolous Scully, while Common Sense Scully took the latter side. "Okay, Mulder. I'm sure the guard will just figure we're on our way to the gym, and we don't have to encounter a single other person for the entire day. I'll see you in about an hour."
He couldn't believe she'd agreed to it. Not that he was up to anything more
than just trying to stay cool, but he still expected her to insist that they
look formal at all times. But there honestly was no point, as far as he
could deduce. Now to find the right thing to wear. His basketball shorts? Nahh, too ugly. His running shorts? They had more holes in them than was prudent, unless you were running alone on a deserted track. What else is in this drawer? Absolutely not. No speedos in the office, black OR red.
Ah, pay dirt. A pair of denim cutoffs, old but still in good shape. He
remembered turning the jeans into shorts after a spill on a case tore open
both knees, resulting in cuts and a certain amount of blood that just didn't
seem to want to come out. They were in great shape otherwise, so why throw
them out? Since then, he hadn't had cause to wear them, but they'd do nicely for today.
Once he was dressed, he knew further contingency measures were called for.
From the recesses of his closet he found the never-used cooler that he'd
bought back when romantic picnics were something a young and naïve agent
envisioned with the woman he thought was "the one." That was just a few days before she broke his heart, and he hadn't used it since.
Two store-bought bags of ice, purchased this morning, filled the container,
where he added the deli sandwiches, fruit salad, and ice cream sandwiches
he'd picked up on the same trip. Now they'd have no reason to go out into
the heat outside the building. He knew that it looked like a picnic, but it
was just common sense. The alternative was having something delivered, and
given the security at the Hoover building, it just wasn't practical during
normal business hours.
Finally ready for work, he picked up his briefcase, the cooler, and locked
the door behind him. He may have to spend a miserable day doing paperwork,
but at least he'd be comfortable while he did it.
He was amazed at how little attention he'd garnered while walking into the
Hoover building in shorts and a muscle shirt, carrying a cooler, but
attributed it to the hour. It wasn't even seven-thirty yet, but there was
certainly no sleeping in this heat.
He'd even managed to beat Scully here, he noted as he unlocked his office
door. The first order of business, even before carrying the cooler inside,
was to turn on the fans. At other times, two 17" fans would probably have
been overkill for such a small office, but not in this heat wave. They'd
gone out at lunch yesterday and bought the inexpensive models when the
morning proved to be unbearable, praying that they'd outlast the weather.
They'd been lucky to find the ones they had - every store in the city was
sold out of any device used for cooling.
His briefcase found its home under the desk and the cooler fit
inconspicuously beside it, out of Scully's view. Settling in, his computer
had just finished booting up when Scully entered the office.
Mulder knew his chin was quite possibly laying on the desk, and his only
thought was that they'd better be damn sure that nobody came down and saw
them this way, or the male contingent of the Bureau would be lined up around
the block just to get a smile from his striking partner.
She had her hair pulled up into a high pony tail, the kind he'd seen her use
before when she was working out. Her perspiring face and lack of makeup only made her look younger and more innocent. Below that, however, she was very obviously all woman. She wore a cropped tank top in the blackest black, which contrasted nicely against her bare, white midriff. Around where her arms met her torso, there was a hint of white that Mulder recognized as an elastic sports bra. Her matching shorts came to mid-thigh, black with white piping around the bottom and where the side slits rose to reveal just a bit more leg. It was reminiscent of the shorts women had worn in the 70's, only not quite so short. He sighed, remembering how his 15-year-old libido had swooned over the 17-year-old girl next door when she'd worn those shorts.
"Mulder, you're staring."
It was enough to bring him out of his reverie. "Sorry," he said simply,
embarrassed. "I just don't see you dressed in your workout clothes very
"Well, if it would make you feel better, we could go down to the gymnasium
for a few falls. Best three out of five?" She smiled wickedly, obviously
remembering the last time they'd had to take a refresher course in
hand-to-hand combat. Mulder had nearly died of embarrassment after picking
himself up off the mat for the umpteenth time, swearing never, ever to
underestimate her again.
"I think I'll pass if you don't mind," he said, his attention suddenly
turning to the reports in front of him. He had no desire to piss her off, but he also was afraid that she'd change her mind and head home to put on
something more businesslike. And at this point, he definitely did not want
"So where are we starting?" she asked, taking her own seat. He handed her
the file in question.
"Henderson case. I finished the incident report, but we still need to do the expenses."
It had taken every ounce of willpower in her possession not to react when her eyes first fell on her partner. Paperwork may have been on the itinerary today, but she hoped that Mulder was prepared to double check every piece of work she completed, as her concentration was most certainly not going to be on the facts and figures. Just one figure had caught her eye. She'd seen Mulder in gym shorts before, but somehow the cutoffs were different. They had the jean-related benefit of hugging him in all the right places while also having the advantage of showing his legs. Why did the man have to be blessed with the most gorgeous set of legs God had ever bestowed on a human male?
It was no better when he was sitting down, she realized. There was more than enough fabric to the white, oversized tank top, but when Mulder was
distracted and unheeding of his appearance, it would bag and gap, giving
Scully the most delicious glimpses of a larger area of his chest than she
usually got to see. Once she even caught a peek of the rounded form of a
very masculine nipple.
Maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all. But she was at work, and they were friends as well as partners. She HAD to regain the control that was faltering. Maybe if she didn't look over there at all, she'd be able to
accomplish the task.
Despite her earlier misgivings, Scully found that being comfortable, once
decorum was re-established, also made them productive; their reports were
being emailed to Skinner's office with a rare frequency. At noon, Mulder had surprised her with the lunch he'd packed, and they'd spent an hour discussing anything except work. Unfortunately, they always seemed to find themselves back on the subject of the weather.
"Is your church air conditioned, Scully? If it is, I may even consider
converting," he said, eliciting a chuckle from her.
"I'm not sure if it's a/c or just all the stone, but it is unusually cool
most of the time. Think they'd mind if I started sleeping in a pew?"
"If they don't, ask them if I can have the one behind you."
"You know what they say, Mulder. Be careful what you wish for - you may just get it. Father McCue has been badgering me to bring you to church for awhile now. Ever since he met you at the hospital a few years ago. He says the Church would 'ease the pain in your soul.'"
"Perhaps, but going there just to keep cool doesn't seem to be the best way
to heaven," he smiled gently, trying not to remember the time when he'd met
the Holy man. She'd been dying of cancer, and it had been the darkest time
in his life.
"Maybe, but as Mom says, there are many roads to God." She could tell he was getting uncomfortable with the serious nature of the talk, so she stood to clean up the debris from her lunch. "Mulder, that was delicious - I really appreciate you thinking of it." Paper plates and plastic forks found there way into the trash with the Saran wrap in which the sandwiches had been wrapped and the watermelon seeds which were the only remnants of the melon salad.
"Thank Silva's Deli. Thank God they open early." He paused for a moment,
until she was no longer bent over the trash can. "However, there is one more thing that DIDN'T come from Silva's."
"What?" He had that look in his eyes. The roguish, devilish look that
usually meant she was either going to want to hug him or kill him very, very
"Well, in the spirit of keeping cool, how would you like . . ." he bent under he desk to the cooler and came out with both hands full. "Haagen-Dazs ice cream suckers!"
Haagen-Dazs? He'd brought her the most decadent, delicious ice cream on the
planet? Okay, she was impressed. But her conscience was still there. "Oh,
Mulder. Those are delicious, but do you know how many grams of fat one of
"Oh, c'mon, Scully. If you can't splurge when it's almost 100 degrees
outside, when CAN you splurge?" His argument was being wasted, really. She
had no intention of letting that delicious piece of confection out of her
sight; she just wanted to impress on him the facts so this didn't become a
frequent thing. Otherwise, she'd end up having to wear a shirt Mulder's size instead of her own.
When she didn't answer him, he must have presumed she was serious. "Well, if you really don't want it . . ."
"I didn't say that," she said, making a grab for the thing. Mulder playfully held it up, out of reach of her five-foot-two frame, but Scully wasn't letting this one get away. Leaping like the Bull's star forward, she came down with the ice cream in her hands, unfortunately landing on Mulder's
"Arrggghh," he groaned, falling into a chair while she tried to keep from
falling into his lap. At just that moment, a sound drew their attention.
"Excuse me. I don't mean to interrupt, but you had an extraordinary amount
of mail today and the mail clerk asked me to bring it down to you." The
speaker offered Scully the stack of envelopes, which she took in the hand
that wasn't holding the ice cream.
"Thank you," Scully said, noticing that the woman's eyes had followed the
sweet treat. She wished she could remember her name. And then, Mulder
"We really appreciate it, Molly," he said, drawing the courier's attention.
"Would you like one?"
"You'd give me one of those?" she looked at the ice cream Mulder was holding
out to her with big, round eyes, and Scully realized how her partner had
instantly charmed the girl.
"Sure, but you have to promise not to tell. I don't have enough for the
whole building. As far as the rest of the building knows, we're just down
here doing paperwork." It was the truth, after all, except for their little
break for lunch and the liberty they'd taken with the dress code.
"No problem, Agent Mulder. Who would I tell?" With that, Mulder handed her
the sucker and she left with a smile and a "have a nice day" as she tore off
She should have known that it would get out. And even if it had, for the
most part, Scully didn't care. But for one very unfortunate bit of
information to which neither of them had been privy. They'd gone back to the reports, working as smoothly as ever, when a firm knock came on the
Oh, my God. It's Skinner! I thought he was on vacation.
Mulder's face must have worn the same shocked expression as her own.
"Take it easy, agents - you look like you've seen a ghost!"
"Ummm," Mulder stuttered. "I'd been told you were on vacation, Sir. I just
didn't expect to see you here."
"Obviously," Skinner said, taking in the two agents. "I'd planned to visit
friends in New York, but it's even hotter there than it is here, and there
was no way I was going to get on a stifling plane in that heat. So I
postponed my time off."
Neither agent responded with more than a simple nodding of his or her head.
What was there to say? They'd been caught.
"Did I miss an agency directive, Mulder?" The question took them both off
"You get the memos before I do, Sir. Fact is, you usually write them. Of
what directive do you speak?"
"The dress code. Both you and Agent Scully haven't just broken it, you've
shattered it into a thousand pieces. You're the department head, so I expect an explanation from you."
Scully tried very hard not to blush, at the same time feeling guiltily
grateful that their boss's attention was on Mulder and not her.
"We had no case we were actively investigating, Sir. And since eight hours
of paperwork is hard enough, let alone doing it in a non-air conditioned
office in 95 degree temperatures, I ordered Scully to wear something that
would assure she would keep cool, and made the same decision for myself."
"And what if a case HAD come up, Agent Mulder?" Skinner asked, and Scully
wasn't sure if she saw a slight twitch of amusement in the otherwise somber
"We both carry spare bags in our cars in case we need to travel on a moment's notice. A suit for each of us is less than a ten-minute walk away."
She'd forgotten about the bags, but trust Mulder to have all the angles covered.
Skinner gave a sigh.
"Well, there's not a lot of point in sending you out to change or home this
late in the day. Stay down here and out of sight, and tomorrow, if you're
still working on the reports you owe me, I at least expect to see your legs," he looked to Mulder, " and your abs," he looked to Scully, "covered." He turned to leave, but recanted for one more point. "And the next time you
bring Haagen-Dazs into the building, I expect you to at least have one for
After he'd left, Scully examined the clock. "It's only 1:30. He could have
easily made us change."
"I know. Imagine that - Skinner has a heart." Mulder smiled warmly, knowing that the man was not the slave driver they kidded about his being. "He had to say something, Scully, otherwise he'd get into trouble himself. But he basically gave us the okay as long as we're discreet. Don't forget, he said he didn't want to SEE us - not that we couldn't wear those things. We just have to be sure that when he sees us, we're okay."
Continue to part 2
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