"So you think this 'Saint' may attempt to contact Dr. Russell?" Scully gave Agent Trevor a cool, appraising look, sitting up straight in the passenger seat of his black sedan as he negotiated afternoon traffic, her hands jammed into her jacket pockets. His suit wasn't as sharp as hers, she had already noted.
"A couple of his aliases have shown up in Boston. Since she's doing her research here, and they're known associates, we assume he's here to contact her."
"Why would he do that? Dr. Russell doesn't have anything else he could want to steal, does she?"
Agent Trevor tried to look as if he were carefully choosing his words, but what he said was fairly unadorned. "He frequently seduces women in the course of his thefts. She's the only one he's ever come back for more of." Giving her a sideways look, he ventured, "Guess this is boring compared to chasing UFOs and ghosts with Spooky Mulder, huh?"
If he asked if she and Mulder were an item, she was going to... handle the matter calmly and professionally just as she always did, she thought sourly. But she wouldn't like it. "Agent Mulder is a capable operative, despite his preoccupations," she informed him coolly. Associating with that brilliant lunatic was going to wreck her career if she didn't watch her step. "However, I do prefer to be dealing with genuine opponents rather than fantastic speculations. Have you contacted Dr. Russell about the Saint?"
"No. We thought it might be best to keep her under surveillance."
"Why? If we spoke to her, she could simply notify us if he shows up--"
"I think she's still in love with him."
"After he deceived and robbed her?"
"She did chase him all the way to Russia. And as far as we can tell, there haven't been any men in her life since him." Trevor steered the car into a parking space half a block away from the coffeeshop Dr. Russell frequented.
As they got out of the car and strolled toward the shop, Scully conceded his point silently. People could do stupid things when they were infatuated, she knew. She had seen it, plenty of times.
The coffeeshop wasn't the kind of place she would have expected a scientist to loiter in. Most of the clientele were raffish bohemian sorts. A few of them had notebooks out and were sketching or writing. A couple of pairs were playing chess. Some were reading, others conducting intense, earnest discussions. Hair colors that never occurred in nature were in abundance, as were foreign cigarettes. Recorded jazz accompanied the arguments and introspection.
Scully and Trevor stood out like the proverbial sore thumbs in their creased slacks and dark blazers. Still, as they ordered their coffee they attracted few glances from the self-absorbed patrons, so it probably wasn't unheard of for "suits" to wander into this dive.
Scully led the way to a table in a back corner. "Good choice," Agent Trevor approved as they sat down. "We can easily observe the entire place from here."
"That's why I picked it," she said patiently. "Standard operating procedure." Male agents usually did this at first: informed her that she was doing things right, as if she didn't know it. It never lasted long. Her glacial attitude made them forget her gender and attractive appearance with surprising speed. Which was why she affected it. She had been through this game too many times to bother to be offended anymore.
Scully kept the conversation on professional ground for the next half hour, until Trevor glanced toward the door and then inclined his head slightly at the young woman who had just entered. "That's her," he said softly.
The agents watched Dr. Emma J. Russell make her way to the counter. Scully had to hide her grin behind her coffee cup.
Still in love with the Saint? Yeah. Right.
Before Emma could speak, the college boy behind the counter smiled at her and said, "Vanilla caramel?"
Emma ducked her head a little in mild embarrassment and nodded as she fished a few wadded bills from her pocket. Scully examined her. Emma's straight blonde hair had been pulled into a haphazard knot at the back of her neck. She wore a white flannel button-down shirt that was at least three sizes too big, a plaid skirt that didn't quite cover her knees -- probably a habit left over from Catholic school -- and dark knee socks with ballet flats. She carried a large tote bag from which books overflowed. Her only jewelry was a cheap bracelet of pink and blue beads; it had to have sentimental value, there was no other reason for anyone to wear such a thing. Her clear skin and wide dark eyes were unembellished by cosmetics.
"She'd be a real looker if she took some trouble," Agent Trevor said, in a tone he apparently thought was complimentary.
Scully had spent years learning to school her expressions, but she wanted to laugh. She's career-driven, works in a male-dominated field, takes no trouble whatsoever with her appearance, and doesn't have a man in her life. How many clues do you people need?
But then, no one ever seemed to guess about Scully, even though it seemed glaringly obvious to herself. She displayed almost all the signs.
"I'm going to speak to her," Scully announced.
"You can't! You'll break our cover!"
"Trevor, surveillance on Dr. Russell will require tremendous manpower. We can get the same result by asking her to notify us if she hears from him. She won't cover for him."
"How can you be so sure?"
Because she's gay, you idiot. "She's an internationally renowned physicist, Trevor. She isn't going to jeopardize her career and her research institute for a liaison with a criminal."
Trevor didn't look convinced, but Scully rose without further ado and made her way to Emma's table. Like them, Emma had chosen a quiet table in the rear, though her priority was probably the privacy rather than the vantage point. Along with her vanilla caramel latte, she had spread books and papers over the small table. There was a journal with Bougereau's Birth of Venus on the cover, a physics manual, and a book of poetry which confirmed Scully's conclusions about Dr. Russell.
Emma looked up in surprise at Scully's approach, and quickly took in Scully's face, hair and suit. "Dr. Emma J. Russell?" Scully began, holding out her hand. Emma bemusedly shook it. "Agent Dana Scully, FBI."
Emma's general shyness was instantly replaced by irritation, and weariness. "If this is about the Saint, I haven't heard from him in three years."
"It is about him," Scully confirmed politely. "May we sit down for a moment?"
Emma nodded with resignation. Scully sat opposite Emma, leaving Agent Trevor to steal a chair from the next table.
"In the last two weeks, two of the Saint's known aliases have shown up in Boston," Scully explained. "Because you're here right now, we thought he might try to contact you."
Emma shook her head. "He hasn't. And if he does, I'll let you know."
Scully handed the other woman her card, and Agent Trevor tendered his as well. "Please call me if you hear from him," Trevor insisted. "Remember that the man's a professional thief. What he says can't be trusted."
Emma gave him a withering glance. "I am quite aware of this. Which is probably the reason he hasn't bothered me again."
"I just wanted to--" Trevor began, but Scully cut in smoothly.
"Renee Vivien," Scully remarked, tapping Emma's book of poetry. "One of my favorites."
Emma's gaze met Scully's and held it for a few seconds. "Her work is so... immediate," Emma said after a moment. Her words were halting, as if each had to be coaxed out. "You feel as if you're in the moment she's describing. And her imagery has a purity to it."
Scully smiled. "Did you know that she attempted to found a colony for women writers and artists?"
Emma nodded, smiling back, her cheeks stained very faintly pink. That shyness really was adorable. "Yes. On a Greek island." Well, saying which Greek island would really be too obvious.
"Sounds like a good place to be," Agent Trevor said. "Greece, art, no one around but women...."
When Scully's eyes met Emma's again, she thought for one second they weren't going to be able to help laughing out loud.
But Emma ducked her head and demurely slipped a hand into her bra. Before either agent had time to recover from their surprise, she had pulled out a business card, which she handed to Scully. "Here's where you can contact me. If you need to," she added, looking away in embarrassment.
Since Trevor still hadn't retrieved his jaw from the floor, Scully asked, "Do you often keep important papers in your bra?" The card was warm from Emma's flesh. Scully resisted the temptation to sniff it. Later.
Emma turned very pink this time. Her eyes on the tabletop, obviously trying to suppress her grin, she managed to say, "Yeah. I do."
"Why?" Trevor blurted.
The grin vanished and Emma's eyes darted around briefly, as if seeking an escape from the question. "It's just a habit I got into."
"We won't take any more of your time, Dr. Russell," Scully said formally, rising. Trevor reluctantly followed suit. "Please notify us if there's cause to."
Emma's dark brown eyes fastened on Scully, and Scully knew she was going to feel that look on her for the rest of the day. It wasn't an unpleasant prospect. "Of course. It was nice meeting you, Agent Scully."
"Never wanted to be a business card so much in my life," Trevor muttered on the walk back to the sedan. Scully didn't bother to respond.
"I think you're right," Trevor announced when they were back in the car. "She will call us if he shows up."
It wasn't easy not to smile at that, but Scully managed it. "Of course she will."
Dr. Russell's apartment was very small, but very charming. It was what Scully might have expected; rather than renting a larger place at a prestigious address, with all the latest gadgets, Emma had found a crumbling old building which had once been beautiful. The chipped moldings and ancient clawfooted bathtub were among the remaining hints of its past glory. "There's something about tawdry finery," Emma had said as she showed the agent around the place, a tour which had taken perhaps five minutes. "And I like how worn everything is. You know that a lot has happened here, that this room has seen all kinds of things."
"You're quite the romantic," Scully had remarked with a smile.
"In the nineteenth century sense," Emma had agreed.
Emma had not had reason to call Scully. There had been no sign of the thief who called himself a saint. Scully had taken it upon herself to call the physicist, only a few hours after they had met. Now, that very evening, they were in Emma's charmingly cluttered apartment, eating Chinese takeout by candlelight, listening to Rachmaninoff and talking, both pretending they did not know how the evening was going to end.
"Do you have anything here that isn't from the Romantic era?" Scully asked, handling the chopsticks with casual skill, showing off a little. Emma was competent with them, but not so confident. They sat together on the worn but very comfortable sofa, a polite space between them, the white takeout cartons arrayed on the coffeetable.
Emma considered. "Besides my physics manuals... not very much. I have the soundtrack of Phantom, if that counts."
Scully laughed. "It doesn't." She took a swallow of the wine she had brought. Her guess had been right -- Emma liked Pinot Noirs as well.
"Dana," Emma said, as if testing the name. "Why did you join the FBI?" She gathered a mouthful into her chopsticks as if it required great concentration.
"There is good in this world, and there is also evil. It is my place to fight that."
"You can use a gun and everything?" Emma sounded almost like a child questioning an adventure star.
"Of course," Scully shrugged, pretending not to notice Emma's admiring expression. "Weapons and hand-to-hand combat are basic Bureau training." Scully wondered why Emma had bothered with the Saint -- it was clear enough in a quiet way that Emma knew herself -- but didn't think it would be tactful to ask. Her guess would be that Emma's fling with the notorious thief had been along the lines of a last try.
"Is it hard, being a woman Fibbie?"
Scully shrugged again. "No harder than being a woman scientist. So how does a Romantic end up being a scientist?"
"Did you know that Byron and Shelley did scientific experiments?" Emma replied, as if she had been through this conversation many times.
"No. Did they learn anything significant?"
She finished with her face slightly flushed, and a radiant smile in direct contrast to her earlier self-effacement. Emma seemed to glow from within with the light of her quest. Scully studied her for a moment before putting down her chopsticks and wineglass. Emma's smile faded and she watched Scully intently with large dark eyes. With a nervous gesture, she dropped her chopsticks on the coffeetable.
Scully held the other woman's gaze as she moved closer. She was far from feeling as confident as she looked, but in her profession, you learned always to seem sure of yourself. It worked well, she had discovered, in her private life too. Emma looked as if she were about to swoon as Scully gently brushed away a lock of hair that had fallen into the blonde's face. Scully's blood warmed. If Emma could become so impassioned over cold fusion....
Scully placed her fingertips delicately along Emma's jawline. They locked gazes for a taut moment before Scully leaned forward and covered Emma's mouth with her own.
Emma gave a captivating little moan as she responded to Scully's kiss, and her arms went around Scully's neck. Scully gave a little sigh of contentment when their lips parted for air. Nice, very nice. She raised her hands to release Emma's hair from its inept fastenings. A large tortoiseshell barrette and a few bobby pins. Scully placed them carefully on the coffeetable as if they were fragile. With the slightly wavy gold hair framing her face, Emma looked softer, more vulnerable. Trevor was right, Emma would be quite a looker if she took the trouble. But to Scully, it was more thrilling to unveil the beauty for herself.
"Dana," came the whisper as the blonde offered up her mouth for another kiss, her dark brown eyes warm and melting. Her lips were soft and yielding. She let Scully press her against the back of the couch and lean over her as the kiss deepened.
A few minutes later, Scully dropped a few warm business cards on the coffeetable beside the bobby pins.
Listening to the inarticulate sounds emerging from the hidden microphones he had stashed in Dr. Russell's apartment, the Saint put aside prurient interest for sheer bafflement.
He had affected many disguises for purposes of seduction, but this was one challenge he didn't feel quite up to.