Yes, Mulder is attractive. But no, I would never fall for him. Not in a hundred million years. I cannot tell how many times I have said something to this effect. To my mother, mostly. To Missy, who used to enjoy teasing me about him. To my friend Ellen, to my godson Trent, to the other women at the Bureau. With shocked propriety to the occasional question from Skinner or Blevins or less savory inquirers. And it was never less than the truth. Sure. So why am I not sleeping the sleep of the just this Friday night (or technically, Saturday morning). Why am I sitting at my computer, desperately trying to formulate some reasoned view of what happened? It is not fear keeping me awake. Eddie Van Blundht is safely in custody. He is charged with rape. I am not sure this is the correct category for his crime; his victims consented, although it was not an informed consent. Still, he clearly committed some kind of sexual offense, and this is the closest we are likely to get in the current penal code. The officers were duly impressed by my insistence on the need for muscle relaxant to be administered to him because of his unique abilities. I think I remained calm and professional in my demeanor throughout. Why not? Eddie was not as frightening a criminal as many of the serial killers we have come across. But he has disturbed me just as much as they did, on a number of levels none of them ever managed to reach. After Eddie was out of our sight, I met each officer with a moment of suspicion, wondering if Eddie had somehow managed to escape again. I know he has disturbed Mulder. Neither of us wanted to talk, even after we took Eddie down to the station. We could cover our embarrassment with professionalism in his presence, but we could not hide it from each other. Mulder did say one thing. "It's just like they warned us in the Academy. Some criminals are masterful manipulators. It's difficult to prepare for the amount of control they exert over those who cross their paths." I nodded. I recognized the phrasing from the class on profiling serial killers, when the ongoing project of interviewing them in prison was explained. Agents were never sent in alone and only the most experienced would be sent. Even so, some agents would find it impossible to continue due to stress, and other agents had been manipulated into sending sensitive materials to the killers they'd interviewed. It helped a little to have the problem labeled. I'd been tricked before by such persons. But nobody had ever tricked me as thoroughly as Van Blundht. Or as personally. I try so hard to keep my personal life safely separate from my life as an agent. I decided when I was transferred out of Quantico that I would not allow the Bureau to co-opt every part of my life. Too many of my fellow instructors had warned me of how easy it was to lose oneself in the job. So I marked out times and places and people which were reserved for myself alone and had nothing to do with Special Agent Dana K. Scully. Dana K. Scully. My official Bureau name. The very concept still strikes me as humorous, that each agent must have a unique designation, as if we were actors. I was told in my first class at Quantico that I could no longer sign myself simply as Dana Scully, because there was already an agent of that name somewhere in the Bureau. I could use my first name and middle initial, both first and middle names, first initial and middle name, or simply drop my first name entirely. But I could not use the name I most thought of as my own. Once I stopped giggling at the thought of being D. Katherine Scully, I decided a Bureau name was a useful division between my previous life and my new-and-paternally-disapproved one. I have since used it as another barrier to protect my personal life. Not that I need it, since Mulder is the only person who has ever called me Scully. Did Eddie ever call me Scully? I don't remember him doing so. No, of course he didn't. He never called me by any name, did he? The better to fool me. It must be one of his techniques. I feel a little better. Even if I didn't notice it at the time, one of the divisions in my life was left alone. But here we are, back to Van Blundht. He did violate my personal life. I have thrown open my apartment windows in some sort of attempt to purify my air of his presence. The occasional siren in the distance is a comfortingly normal sound at the moment. I am still not sure if I should keep the wine bottle as evidence, so I bagged it up. But I cannot bag my couch. I cannot contain in any Zip-Loc the fact that, a few hours prior, I nearly kissed what I thought was my partner on the strength of nothing more than a little wine and a few questions. Because, of course, Eddie told me nothing of his life in exchange for all I said about mine. Another classic technique -- let the victim do the talking. But all classic cons depend on one thing -- letting the victim think they have the better of the deal. I was enjoying his questions, just as, earlier today, I'd enjoyed Mulder asking me who I'd like to be. Well, perhaps 'enjoyed' is not the word. 'Been bemused by'. Usually, one does not ask personal questions when one is walking up to the suspect's father's door. But that was Mulder. I did my best to walk around his question and then gave him an answer he didn't expect. So of course he claimed that was against the rules. A tactic I would have expected out of my brothers, actually. When they were in junior high. But that's Mulder. And now I'm back where I started, hours ago, when I became resigned to the fact that I could not sleep, and the couch was definitely not going to work tonight. Or for many nights to come. I can't clean memories off. I am never going to forget that I was, God help me, about to kiss Mulder when Mulder walked in. There is no easy way to decide what happened here. I cannot say that I was under the influence of the wine. That much wine would never make me drunk. Tipsy, perhaps, but fully responsible for my own actions. I cannot simply say that I was manipulated by Eddie. For all that I liked that new side of Mulder, I would surely not have answered such questions from a stranger as unguardedly as I did. No, not even from Ed Jerse. When I spoke to him, I cast my autobiography into stories with clear morals, telling him only what I wished to reveal -- although admittedly that was a great deal. I certainly never told him about Marcus, or admitted he was once the love of my life. I only told that story because I was sure that Mulder would enjoy hearing how his proper partner ended up riding home from the prom on a pumper truck. I was unprepared, when Eddie made Mulder's face give me that look. It even horrified me for a moment. But only for a moment. Not a very long moment, frankly. I looked into the hazel eyes I knew so well and made a decision. Years of trust and friendship led me to that moment. And, had it been the real Mulder.... Fine. Admit it. Had it really been him, he might still be here, or I might have sent him home. Either way, I probably would still be awake, but I would be a great deal more happy about it. But it is the guilt that hurts the most. After all the years of partnership, after all the years with the highest solve rate in the Bureau and the smug assertion that we knew each other better than anyone in the world, I didn't figure it out. Not even when he said he'd decided it wasn't an X-File. I left the hospital in the company of Van Blundht, while Mulder was being held prisoner. At least I don't have to feel, as Mulder would, that I should somehow have 'sensed' a problem. But dealing with my stupidity and amenity to manipulation is bad enough. We're due for a big case. I hope we don't get one tomorrow; I've only going to get 3 or 4 hours of sleep at this rate. Oh, and I do not look forward to explaining this case to Skinner. Maybe he won't be too hard on me, considering that he didn't figure it out either. At least the apprehension will help me stay awake. But there's one good thing about being exhausted. You don't dream much. Especially not about your partner. I can't believe I'm reacting like this. I keep trying to flashback to all his annoying habits and all the times he's ditched me. But I can't seem to turn off my hormones tonight, and I know there's even more to it than that. But I have to get some sleep. So I'll permit myself one sappy statement and refuse to feel guilt. Then I'll turn this darn thing off and go to bed. I would never fall for Mulder. Not in a hundred million years. Not unless he asked.